CYBERBULLYING – ETHICAL CONCERNS AND PREVENTION

TERM PAPER (GEC 010-ETHICS)

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the ethical issue of cyberbullying. It elaborates its definition, statistics, methods, and types that occur. It examines the four domains of ethical assessment; action, consequences, character, and motive that justified cyberbullying is unethical. It also explains the ways how to prevent and resolve this very serious issue.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

-Title Page
-Abstract
-Table of Contents
-Introduction
-Ethical Assessment
Action
Consequences
Character
Motive
-Conclusion
-References

INTRODUCTION

Technology advancement and development contribute a lot of benefits but also various downsides. One of the biggest issues that is still rampant even up to this day is cyberbullying. According to Hutson (2016), cyberbullying is sometimes known as online bullying which is an electronic form of contact that involves repetition of intentional and aggressive actions that cause harm and damage to the target or victim. It is bullying that involves using technology that leads someone to be harassed, hurt humiliated, intimidated, and embarrassed. Patacsil, F.F. (2019) added, “Cyberbullying is an intentional action of harassment along the complex domain of social media utilizing information technology online.”

In Todorov’s blog, “50 Crucial Cyberbullying Stats, Trends, and Facts 2022”, India, Brazil, and the United States are the three countries where cyberbullying is most prevalent. The three countries that have the highest rates of cyberbullying in Asia are China, India, and Singapore. In statistics of cyberbullying in the Philippines, Region 4A- CALABARZON got the highest number of cyberbullying incidents throughout the country last 2019 with approximately 92.4 thousand victims (Statistic Research Department, 2021). It is among the top cybercrimes in the Philippines.

A survey of Ipsos last 2018 involving over 20,000 respondents worldwide shows that one in five parents worldwide told that their child experienced cyberbullying. (Nortajuddin, 2020). STOMPOutBullying.org emphasized that in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, children are being so exposed to using digital platforms not just for personal use but as well educational purposes. Youths and teens are always online because they use the internet for distance learning. Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO stated, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, and the related school closures, we have seen a rise in violence and hate online and this includes bullying. Now, as schools begin to reopen, children are expressing their fears about going back to school.” With the increased usage of smartphones as well as different social media platforms, they are prone to cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying takes place over cellphones, tablets, computers, and other digital devices. It occurs in various methods such as through text messages and emails, phone calls, websites, social media like Facebook and Instagram, forums, and online gaming communities where people can interact, participate, and share content (stopbullying.gov, 2021). Due to the prevalence of social media, people especially students can socially interact online, they can use their access to encourage their peers to join them in a large online audience to bully someone with gossiping and untrue stories. (PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center). With just one click on social media, people can share goodness as well as meanness.

ETHICAL ASSESSMENT

Cyberbullying is an ethical issue and ethical analysis is needed by examining the following domains; action, consequence, character, and motive.

ACTION

Nortajuddin (2022) posted about the different types of cyberbullying; harassment, outing, flaming, exclusion, and masquerading. Harassment is used most commonly through social networking sites, messaging, and emails. It involves sending offensive and malicious messages done by a bully to an individual or group. The outing is simply sharing of personal and private information about the victim publicly through video or picture. Flaming is related to harassment which consists of heated exchange conversations via emails, chat rooms, and text messages. It is also known as an online fight for it contains harsh and aggressive messages. Then, the exclusion is an intentional action of leaving a person behind, putting the victim feel out of place in the group. The group of bullies subsequently leaves harasses and malicious comments to him/her. Lastly, masquerading as a bully creates a fake identity to bully someone by impersonation and sending malicious messages. These bullying tactics have done by a bully clearly are wrong actions.

Aside from the five types of bullying listed above, StopBullying.gov shared also different cyberbullying strategies that are indeed not permissible to do. Posting rumors, pictures, videos, or comments to hurt or embarrass someone, threatening, creating a mean webpage, and destroying someone’s privacy disobeys the principle of social contract theory. Instead of behaving morally to reduce social chaos and promote peace, these actions create conflicts and problems that peace is missing. As well as considering the ethical theory of deontology which emphasizes action is good based on its nature, cyberbullying is a wrong action. It is not just against the law but also the ethical principles of God’s commandments and the Golden Rule. Harassing and making someone suffer is very unethical.

CONSEQUENCES

Pkarpicz said, “Every action we take has a consequence. Sometimes it’s best to consider the consequence before we take action.” Cyberbullying is wrong because it results in negative consequences. Half of the Filipino children aged 13-17 are greatly affected by cyberviolence. The bully’s action has negative consequences and thus is wrong. Cyberbullying can harm everyone’s reputation-not just the bullied, but also those doing the bullying. It is physically, behaviorally, psychologically, and emotionally damaging.

According to Gordon (2021), cyberbullying can lead to someone suffering from gastrointestinal issues, disordered eating, and sleep disturbances. Kids may struggle with stomachache and ulcers, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea due to stress. Cyberbullied kids experienced changes in their eating habits too, either they skipped their meals or spent more on binge eating. And, it has also an impact on someone’s sleep patterns. Insomnia, sleeping more than usual, or nightmares are examples of sleep disturbances that a victim experiences. The research done by Gini and Pozzoli (2013) showed that bullied students are twice as likely as other students to feel headaches and stomaches.

Research done by Todorov (2022) tells that cyberbullying victims experienced adjustment problems and they suffered from behavioral and mental problems. 64% of cyberbullying victims say that it has affected their ability to feel safe and learn at school which resulted their self-esteem being low. They lose interest in things they once enjoyed, spend less time with the people around them, and they’re always being alone. Depression and anxiety are evident in them, they worried and isolate themselves more. They often have much higher rates of absenteeism because they skip school to avoid facing confrontations and judgments. It is difficult for them to focus in study and that explains why they got lower marks. Some cyberbullied engaged in self-harm and suicidal thoughts (Gordon, 2021). Todorov (2022) added, “A teenager who experiences traditional bullying or cyberbullying is nearly two times more likely to attempt suicide or show evidence of suicidal behavior.” The rate of bullycide or death by suicide because of bullying increased over the past decade because it was fueled by online bullying aside from traditional ones. The story of R Thivya Nayagi proved that cyberbullying can lead to suicide. After she was inundated by hateful messages left on a viral TikTok video she made with her male colleague, she committed suicide. (Nortajuddin, 2020)

In a study conducted by telecommunications company Telenor, researchers found out that in 320 parents they’ve interviewed, 29% stated that their children experienced depression and were really affected negatively (Nortajuddin, 2020). As Gordon (2021) stated, cyberbullying is a significant stressor in the youth. 32% of kids who are cyberbullying targets experienced symptoms of stress. To add, they also feel embarrassed, fear, and hurt, they’ve even blamed themselves. Also, anger is the most common response to cyberbullying. Lastly, 37% of bullying victims develop social anxiety (Vojinovic, 2022).

Cyberbullying has effects on someone’s behavior too. In Gordon (2021), cyberbullied kids lose their interest in active activities, instead, they tend to use drugs and alcohol. One study found that cyberbullying victims were 2 and half times more likely to use marijuana and drink alcohol. In one survey too, they reported two or more suspensions or detentions in the prior year at their respective schools because of skipping classes. They are likely to bring a weapon too because, in a survey, kids who underwent cyberbullying were eight times more likely to carry a weapon to school, maybe to protect themselves or put an act of revenge.

Considering the applicable laws on cyberbullying too, aside from RA 10627 or “The Anti-Bullying Act of 2013″intended for minors, RA 7610 or “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act” is useful too.

ARTICLE VI- Other Acts of Abuse
Section 10. Other Acts of Neglect, Abuse, Cruelty or Exploitation and Other Conditions Prejudicial to the Child’s Development.
(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse, cruelty, or exploitation or to be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development including those covered by Article 59 of Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period.

And for adults, the RA 10175 also known as cybercrime law is applicable. It encompasses illegal access to online accounts, online libel, and identity theft. RA 9995 or The Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 also applies for its about using of intimate videos or images that the intention is to harass, extort, and blackmail the target. Article 2176, Civil Code on Damages stated that whoever by act causes damage to another is obliged to pay for the damage done. Therefore, a person who is caught doing cyberbullying for it causing damage to someone’s reputation may be liable to the subject for damages and this can be valid under the law.

In teleological ethics, John Stuart Mill stated, “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” Yes, cyberbullying created happiness for a bully, but it’s just temporary because a bully might get sued and suffer from its consequence based on the law. The effects stated above clearly show that cyberbullying has a negative impact on the victim, it doesn’t produce happiness, but pain and suffering. And of course, utilitarianism through Francis Hutcheson emphasized that action is best if it procures the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

CHARACTER

Aristotle stated, “Character is revealed through action.” An action is good if a person doing it is virtuous because virtue is about doing the right thing. According to Escortell (2020), bullies have been characterized by lower levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness like being not in order and failing to fulfill commitments. They also have higher levels of neuroticism and aggression that’s why they’re into attacking someone violently. The common characteristics of a cyberbully are violence, no compassion, and selfishness. A bully is someone who likes to fight and hurt someone through his/her actions therefore cyberbullying is unethical. A cyberbully doesn’t have a good character trait that resulted in his/her own actions being morally wrong. A person will never look good if he’s trying to make someone else look bad. Cyberbullying is bullying, and bullying is not okay.

MOTIVE

Leonardo da Vince stated, “Every action needs to be prompted by a motive.” And, Jean de la Bruyere added, “It’s motive alone which gives character to the actions of men.” In ethical assessment, the motive is also being examined which is the intention of the people involved. Considering this ethical issue, cyberbullying, the motive of the people who bully is being analyzed.

There are many reasons behind cyberbullying such as fun, revenge, a solution to boredom, and y matters. In the study conducted by Tanrikulu and Baker (2019), the motives behind cyberbullying are revenge, entertainment, harm, and dominance. As well as Gordon (2020), listed “8 Motives Behind Why Kids Cyberbully ” which explains why someone does this unethical action. First, cyberbullies are out for revenge. Oftentimes, bully people were victims of bullying first, so, they’re using the internet and social media platforms to fight back. They wanted others to feel what they have felt and were justified in doing so. Next is cyberbullies blame the victim because through it they can drag someone down. Third, they are bored and looking for entertainment because cyberbullying might add some drama and excitement to their lives. Fourth, cyberbullies cave under peer pressure because, to be fit in a group, they must do what their peers are doing. Fifth, they think that everyone is doing it. It is implanted in their minds that cyberbullying is normal and doesn’t seem like a significant problem. Sixth, cyberbullies are power-hungry, they want to be popular, the center of attention, and be superior to others. Second to the last, they believe that they won’t get caught. And lastly, they lack empathy.

These reasons proved that cyberbullying is morally wrong. The intention of hurting someone and wanting his/her life to be miserable is never good, it’s always bad. An anonymous author said, “Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make your shine any brighter.”

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, this paper examined cyberbullying through four domains; action, consequences, character, and motive, and found that it is unethical. This is an ethical issue that continues to be prevalent with our technological advancement. The act of hurting or harming someone through using technology is against the ethical principles of law, religion, and etiquette. It can seriously impact the lives of the people involved – bully and bullied. Cyberbullying can be addressed under criminal law or civil law, therefore cyberbullies will face the legal consequence of it. On the other hand, it affects the cyberbullied’s mental health, psychological aspect, and behavior. It leads to depression, anxiety, and stress-related conditions. People who are doing cyberbullying show bad and undesirable character for its motive signifies morally wrong too.

Being a student, you can help to prevent cyberbullying by educating yourself to be a responsible digital citizen. Always be cautious in your decision-making and apply the ethical assessment always. Never be afraid to step up, to report when you observe cyberbullying occurs. If it happens like you were cyberbullied, take a break from online engagement and put in mind that there are people who will support and help you especially your parents. You are not alone in this battle, God is with you so don’t be troubled.

That’s why it is important to be aware and actively try to prevent this. Knowing how to properly intervene when cyberbullying happens helps resolve this issue. It is clear to everyone that cyberbullying is unethical, therefore, never engage with this anymore. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

REFERENCES

Cyberbullying. (n.d.). PACERs National Bullying Prevention Center. Retrieved from https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/cyberbullying/

Cyberbullying During COVID-19. (n.d.). STOMPOutBullying. Retrieved from https://www.stompoutbullying.org/blog/Cyberbullying-During-COVID-19

Escortell, R., Aparisi, D., Delgado, B. (2020, August 7). Personality Traits and Aggression as Explanatory Variables of Cyberbullying in Spanish Preadolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7460113/

Gini, G. and Pozzoli, T. (2013, October 1). Bullied Children and Psychosomatic Problems: A Meta-Analysis. AAA Publications. Retrieved from https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/132/4/720/64862/Bullied-Children-and-Psychosomatic-Problems-A-Meta?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Gordon, S. (2020, July 10). 8 Motives Behind Why Kids Cyberbully. Verywellfamily. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/reasons-why-kids-cyberbully-others-460553

Gordon, S. (2021, April 25). The Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying on Children. Verywellfamily. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-are-the-effects-of-cyberbullying-460558

Hutson, E. (2016). Cyberbullying in Adolescence: A Concept Analysis. National Library of Medicine (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26836994/

Nortajuddin, A. (2020, December 2). Cyberbullying on the Rise. The ASEAN Post.
Retrieved from https://theaseanpost com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/theaseanpost.com/article/cyberbullying-rise?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&amp&usqp=mq331AQKKAFQArABIIACAw%3D%3D#aoh=16527923733317&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Ftheaseanpost.com%2Farticle%2Fcyberbullying-rise

Number of cyberbullying incidents Phillipines 2019 by region. (2021, December, 1). Statistica Research Department. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1136192/philippines-number-cyberbullying-incidents-by-region/

Patacsil, F. F. (2019). Analysis of Cyberbullying Incidence among Filipina Victims: A Pattern Recognition using Association Rule Extraction.

Sonnie (2022, April 23). Cyberbullying in the Philippines: Applicable Laws and Practical Help. AskSonnie.info. Retrieved from https://asksonnie.info/cyber-bullying-philippines/

Tanrikulu, I. and Baker, O. (2019, January, 4). Motives behind Cyberbullying Perpetration: A Test of Uses and Gratifications Theory. SAGE Journals. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0886260518819882

Todorov, G. (2022, April, 12). 50 Crucial Cyberbullying Stats, Trends, and Facts 2022. ThriveMyWay. Retrieved from https://thrivemyway.com/cyberbullying-stats/

Vojinovic, I. (2022, March 15). Heart-Breaking Cyberbullying Statistics for 2022. DataProt. Retrieved from https://dataprot.net/statistics/cyberbullying-statistics/


What is Cyberbullying. (2021, November 5). Stopbullying.gov. Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it

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