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Empathetic children less likely to indulge in cyber-bullying: Studies

One of the newer forms of bullying that has evolved with the rise of technology is cyber-bullying. It is astonishing how this phenomenon is mostly affecting the school-children and with each passing day, more and more children are falling prey to this psychological trauma.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Bullying among the youths has been one of the biggest concerns for parents and has always posed a big challenge to the authorities. Lately bullying has escalated into a bigger problem as cyber-bullying as nearly 85 percent of the children in India are experiencing cyber-bullying.

A recent study which says that bullying has been less prevalent in children with higher levels of empathy, may help experts and authorities in dealing with the cases of cyber-bullying.

According to The Effect of Empathy on Involving in Bullying Behavior, published in Paediatrics Today, “There are numerous definitions of bullying, but they all refer to bullying as repeated intimidation, over time, of a physical, verbal and psychological nature, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group of  persons. It is repetitive and encompasses an intrinsic power imbalance between the bully and the person being bullied, who generally is incapable of  self-defense”. 

Dealing with cyber-bullying

One of the newer forms of bullying that has evolved with the rise of technology is cyber-bullying. It is astonishing how this phenomenon is mostly affecting the school-children and with each passing day, more and more children are falling prey to this psychological trauma.

We take a look into the aspect of cyber-bullying from a different perspective. Several researches have shown that youngsters who inculcate empathetic behaviour are less likely to bully others. We present certain factoids, associated with the evil of cyber-bullying and how it can be addressed.

The horror of ‘Bois Locker Room’

Not very long ago, the nation was shaken up with the unearthing of a private chat group on Instagram by the name, Bois Locker Room. The chat room consisted of some teenaged school boys, from South Delhi, who shared lewd remarks and morphed pictures of their classmates and other teenage girls. The issue came into the limelight in May 2020. What was more shocking that the guys indulged in chat and online gossip, sharing common intentions about raping and sexually assaulting their female school mates.

The issue highlighted a very important issue of mental and psychological conditioning of adolescent and teenage boys. More and more children are now exposed to porn and adult content online. This is all the more reason for parents to take cognizance of the situation and keep an eye on their child’s cyber-activities. The issue needs more attention, only then, the problem of cyber-bullying can be addressed on a wider sphere within the society.

Emotional impact of cyber-bullying

Some researchers are of the view that cyber-bullying has a more intense and far-reaching impact on a child’s mind, because it is not limited to a certain time frame. Whereas, other incidents of cyber-bullying stop with the ring of the bell or when the school ends, cyber-bullying stretches beyond the school time and it can happen anytime after the school hours. There are several emotional impacts faced by the victim child, and some of the impacts linked with cyber-bullying are listed below:

  • The affected child starts to avoid social contact with friends and relatives and begins to remain reclusive
  • Being restricted to one’s room
  • Becomes withdrawn or quieter than usual
  • Trouble in concentrating on studies and school work
  • Drastic drop in school grades
  • No or low interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Not feeling like going to school
  • Staying away from mobile, laptop or PC
  • Developing anger issues
  • Being extra cautious when using mobile or laptop, ensuring no one sees the screen
  • Drug use or alcohol intake
  • Suicidal tendencies

Mental and social impacts of cyber-bullying among adolescents

When a victim is exposed to cyber-bullying, it causes a great deal of psychological distress and the adolescent develops depressive symptoms, many times indulging in self-injury. In worst cases, the teen can also try committing suicide. Cyber-bullying has also emerged as a major topic for consideration for public-health policy-making. 

The adolescent victim has to deal with low self-esteem, being withdrawn from society, loss of confidence and ill-will to commit to any task. 

Role of empathy in cyber-bullying

Empathy is the ability to understand and collate human emotions that are possessed by other individuals. Recent researches have found a deep connection between empathy and incidents of cyber-bullying. Researchers are of the view that adolescent children, who develop empathy are less likely to bully other children. 

According to Cyber-bullying and Empathy in the Age of Hyperconnection: An Interdisciplinary Approach, published in Frontiers in Sociology in October, 2020, “In fact, the term Empathy has been used to describe sympathy or compassion. The interdisciplinary approach allows a broader and more innovative analysis to better understand the phenomenon of cyber-bullying and to conceptualize new intervention strategies in the social and educational fields to open new frontiers in research”.

Role of parents

Parents have the most crucial role in a child’s personality development, because they have the greatest influence over them. May all parents take a vow to inculcate empathy among their children. This can not only save other children from becoming victims to bullying and cyber-bullying, it can save precious lives from getting ruined and would make the world a better place.