Article written by Mwara Gichanga
As the online discussions carried on throughout the week, online/cyber-bullying also came up as point of discussion especially in this digital era where most conversations have moved from offline to online platforms.
To grasp the gravity of the issues concerning online bullying we must first understand what it is.
Ronald Ojino described Cyber-bullying as any form of bullying which takes place online and is available on a range of platforms including new interactive apps, games consoles, social networks etc. where most young people spend their time.
What are the Trends?
Statistics show that 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying (mcfeeintel security) and nearly 69% have experienced it, 41% of that being Girls while 28% Boys (cyber-bullying research centre)
‘’ In regards to online bullying neither us nor our children are safe. There have recently been deaths directly attributable to cyber bullying where a lady committed suicide and online crime waves like the Blue Whale Challenge.’’ Rosemary Koech
One of the now evolving trends of cyber bullying is the term dimmed ‘Revenge Porn’ and Francis explained it as when a victims private information in form of images or conversations are exposed to the public through social media platforms after a disagreement. An example is Kimindiri and Roshanara Ebrahim. In the case of Roshanara Ebrahim V Ashley Kenya Limited & 3 others (2016), the High Court found that her ex-boyfriend had breached her right to privacy under Article 31 (c). For the breach, the court asked him to pay Ksh. 1 million.
Challenges tackling the offense?
In regards to capacity there is need to invest heavily in cybercrime units in the police force and generally have operations digitized so that our forces are equipped to deal with the new frontier for crime.
One of the main challenges in tackling the offense are finding the main perpetrators, like in instances of mass cyber bullying where stories go viral in various channels, it may be impossible to even know the person who originally posted.’’ Rosemary Koech
What should be done to address this offense?
Kenya Information and Communication Act CAP 411A has not addressed cyber-bullying as an offense, perhaps it’s time the Kenyan government considers revising the statute books to legislate against cyber-bullying to encourage a conducive environment for all online user. Once the section is amended, agencies such as the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Police should take the lead in creating awareness about cyber-bullying and how to respond to it.
Mildred, Rosemary and Ronald suggested that Charity begins at home and so does bullying. Bullies are created, not born, so the family situation also needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers should have access to tools that can be used to monitor their children’s online activities.
Working with social media platforms such as Facebook to able to flag down abusive/ victimizing content from users, is also a way to stop cyberbullying content/language at its source.
Open issues to be addressed.
Is bullying gloried in Kenyan TV shows and songs?
Should criminal law be used to curb cyber bullying?