• Omolemo Molepo

The 21st Century Bully

Since the spread of the Coronavirus, a lot of activities have moved online. Activities such has shopping, schooling, and socialising, to name a few. Despite the fact that it is convenient and necessary for these activities to take place online for the time being, there are still some drawbacks. For instance, card scams that take place during online shopping or load shedding for citizens requiring electricity. The biggest inconvenience being user 23445 – cyber-bullying.

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying using electronic communication to bully or harass an individual. It has become increasingly common among teenagers and young adults due to the expansion of the digital sphere and various technological advancements. Presently, it is easier to bully someone online than in person, as the perpetrator can hide their identity. According to pandasecurity.com, 20% of bullying takes place physically while 80% now takes place online. The bullies behind our screens do not realise that they are causing significant harm.

It is also quite well known that bullying is closely linked to suicide. According to the Megan Meier Foundation, students who have experienced bullying or cyberbullying are nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide. Suicide is not the only effect of bullying though; mental health can also be affected. Teenagers who are bullied tend to develop low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, but only 20% of those teenagers get the help they need.

It is hard for teenagers to speak up about being bullied because they do not want to seem weak or experience further victimisation. So, it is important that parents or teachers become aware of the signs of bullying, which may include mood changes, self-isolation, and physical marks on an individual’s body. It is also important that parents and teachers try to address the situation in a loving and sensitive manner by not using language that will further exacerbate the situation Although teachers and parents must be on the lookout, teenagers should also try to speak up in order to receive the help they need. Speaking up does not make you weak, it makes you courageous.

Bullying is something that will not go away, 1 out of every 5 students experience bullying in their lifetime. In the moment, it may seem as if the bullying may never end, but it will. It is important to remember that being bullied only makes you stronger, and it does not define you as an individual. As Robert Frost once said, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself.”

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