Desperation due to cyberbullying

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BLACKMAIL, extortion and several other related crimes fall under the general category of violence, in which when someone is forced into doing or not doing something.

One of the most challenging problems on the Internet is the fact that it has made our secrets, whether personal or official, much easier to be accessed and shared with the public.

When we talk about files on our gadgets, many people will state that they have “nothing to hide,” and it is true that few of us are engaged in any seriously illegal activity. 

Even then, there may be perfectly legal but embarrassing information in your life that you would like to keep hidden: private photos, personal discussions, or business secrets. This ‘personal data’ are often what hackers and cyber bullies target.

There is increasing evidence that the Internet and social media can influence suicidal thoughts. 

Important questions are whether this influence poses a significant risk to the public and begs the question on how our public health facilities address the issue.

Access to websites, social media and other online platforms can place unnecessary pressure on an individual to adopt the lifestyle that is portrayed online and very often there is no one to help users navigate past some of the dangers present on the internet.

Internet and electronic devices have given people different ways of socialising but have also made possible new kinds of negative interactions, known as cyber bullying.

There are several specific ways that social media can increase risk for suicidal thoughts. Cyberbullying and cyber harassment, for example, are serious and prevalent problems.

In particular, cyberbullying involves harassing, intimidating, threatening or otherwise harming others by sending or posting threatening or humiliating texts, pictures or videos over the Internet without permission.

The trending story on the former Minister of General Education, David Mabumba, is a clear example of internet abuse which should be condemned at all cost.

Council of Bishops general secretary, Able Kaela, has warned members of the public to use internet for better things rather than pouncing on an opportunity to dent other people’s image.

Bishop Kaela noted with concern that the increase in the number of bad photos and videos that go viral on social media makes sad readings.

We agree with Bishop Kaela as such vices have continued to occur in Zambia and if not well controlled, may lead to loss of life.

Internet users very often do not know the far reaching consequences of undertaking certain activities on the internet and in this particular incident, there have been many voices on social media that have unapologetically circulated pornographic materials and even made comments that border on libel and hate speech.

The effects of cyber bullying and hate speech online can hit hard on any person, whether young or old and this can have a further impact on their work performance, health, social interactions and general well-being.

It is therefore gratifying to note that plans are underway to sponsor a private member’s motion in Parliament that will address cyber bullying and internet abuse. 

In June this year this, Professor Nkandu Luo said the family and social fabric among youths in Zambia is lacking and has hinted that plans are underway to sponsor a private member’s motion in Parliament that will address cyber bullying.

Prof Luo, the livestock minister who spoke in her capacity as chairperson of the Caucus of Women Parliamentarians, said laws are needed to curb cyber bullying, especially targeting women.

This is a very welcome move as cyberbullying also has a negative effect on victims’ self-esteem. 

Although few studies have investigated the relationship between cyberbullying and suicide, existing results suggest that the risks of suicidal behavior and suicidal ideation are higher in those who have been victimised.

If cyberbullying is not handled appropriately, it may led to negative emotional responses and poor psychological adjustment.

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