The article is first published on philstar.com on October 17th, 2012.
MANILA, Philippines – “Jane,” a college junior at the Manila University, admits she bashes other people in the Internet.
She said it is her way of coping with the harsh treatment she experienced when she was suffering from psoriasis, a skin disease.
“Parang halos lahat po ng nakakasalubong ko sa corridor eh pinandidirihan ako, (Almost all of the people I meet in the corridor look at me with disgust),” she told Philstar.com.
“Jane” said she had tried to inform the people around her that her disease was not contagious but to no avail.
“Gusto ko lang pong makaramdam kahit kaunting ginhawa lang mula sa pambu-bully sa akin (I just want to feel a little relief from the bullying I experience),” she added.
“Jane” though does not identify in her Facebook posts the subject of her negative comments.
“It remains safe because they cannot trace who I was referring to,” she said.
“Jane,” nevertheless, admitted that cyber bullying would not do her any good.
“It is not good to bully but somehow, that is my way to cope,” she said.
Some cyber bullies, however, badmouth others for sheer entertainment.
Take the case of “Tony” (not his real name), a college junior in a private school in Cainta, Rizal, who claims that his subjects do not make a big deal out of his nasty comments.
“Sometimes, they are even happy about it. There are comment threads and even smileys,” he said in a separate interview.
“Tony” and his friends would bully other students in their school either by name-calling online or by pushing them at the corridors.
“Feeling po namin eh mas angat kami sa iba (We feel superior over the others),” he said.
“Tony” admitted that he has been placed under disciplinary probation because of his behavior.
“But they do not react (negatively) so I admit I will continue with my antics. I cannot just leave my friends,” he said.
Cyber bullies: Potential criminals?
“Jane” and “Tony” are just two of the Internet users engaged in cyber bullying, one of the activities that the embattled Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 seeks to curb.
The law seeks to put an end to cyber bullying by imposing harsh punishments on online libel. Those who commit the offense can be imprisoned from six to 12 years.
The Supreme Court, however, temporarily stopped the implementation of the law amid claims that it violates freedom of expression.
Some sectors, however, back the law, saying this would teach Internet users to be more prudent with their comments and posts.
Christopher Lao, the lawyer who was heavily criticized online after claiming that he was not informed about a flood, said cyber bullying is rampant since nobody is punished for it.
“Isn’t it more effective to shame somebody if you have the luxury of all the colors; you could actually have it in motion pictures or 3D?” he said in a recent forum.
Lao said that victims of cyber bullying could be potential criminals since they would never speak up until they are filled with much anger.
A complex problem
Rodrigo Lopiga, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said bullying, whether in the real or the virtual world, can be caused by a complex problem.
He said three factors may be behind bullying namely psychological imbalance, the reward principle and the psychodynamics.
Psychological imbalance occurs when one’s cognitive aspect – referring to one’s mental processes – is not in accordance with the demands of reality
Lopiga said the reward principle applies when the bullying has been tolerated by someone until the act becomes a part of his overall personality.
Inner conflicts, meanwhile, stem from one’s unconscious mind.
“The flashbacks of the times when one is bullied or harassed when he was young would confuse him and would prod him to bully,” Lopiga said.
The cases of “Jane” and “Tony,” Lopiga said, were assertions of power on other people which they could not express properly.
“In the case of ‘Jane,’ she seems to claim that I’m not okay and you’re okay. Now, I’ll show you I’ll be okay and you’ll not be! That itself is expressing power she could not express due to her disease,” he said.
Lopiga said “Tony” displayed the “façade of a weak personality.” He said such attitude reflects a sign of the “dependent personality disorder,” wherein someone relies on his friends for everything about himself.”
“That’s why even if he had recognized his fault, he would not leave his friends behind because he felt he was also superior like his friends,” Lopiga said.
Lopiga said strengthening parent and teacher interventions is important in preventing bullying in school.
He said the anti-cybercrime law can address bullying if the family, academe and the religious sector will work together to promote the welfare of children. – Ghio Ong for Philstar.com