Easy connectivity has caused targets of cyber bullying to come under pressure 24 hours a day, with most victims afraid to speak out and seek help for fear of appearing weak.
These were highlighted by the four panellists during the public forum on ‘Cyber Bullying: Stand Up! Stand Tall!’ organised by WOU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) at the main campus today.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) consultant developmental psychologist Dr Abdul Rahman Ahmad Badayai described the psychological profile of a cyber bully as “persistent, permanent and hard to notice”. He said besides the continuous online pressure, the victims may also become objects of ridicule in the real world.
He warned that information and photos uploaded online are permanent and public, exposing users to cyber harassment. He advised parents to teach kids about online risks and to monitor their online activities, such as the social networking sites visited,, browsing history, and the latest social media or mobile applications downloaded.
Senior Communications Officer Saidatul Ashikin Abu Hassan of International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threat (IMPACT), Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC), quoted a 2014 nationwide study showing 64% of children do not realise that posting inappropriate photos, sending improper messages, or pretending to be someone else is cyber bullying. The survey also revealed that 26% of schoolchildren reported being bullied online, with kids between 13 and 15 years bullied the most, and that over 70% of children have experienced some form of online harassment.
The MCMC received 38 reports of cyber bullying from January to November this year, especially on Facebook, she added, highlighting that the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 does not apply to children.
Supt Chelvam Ramiah Pillai, Deputy Director of the Penang Commercial Crime Investigation Department, shared that it is difficult to identify the suspects in cyber bullying. He said that the Police can take action against cyber bullies through CMA 1998, the Computer Crimes Act 1997 and the Penal Code.
He stressed the important role of parents, urging them to be alert to changes in their kids’ behaviour, like not accessing the Internet as often, becoming quiet, and refusing to go to school. He encouraged parents to communicate with their child to gauge if cyber bulllying is a problem, and to document the incidents for Police investigation, instead of intervening directly and risk flaring up the issue.
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) Outreach Project Officer Nur Hasanah Ahmad Ahmad Akhir mentioned the general attitude in the Asian culture that equated “asking for help to being weak”, thus discouraging victims from seeking help. She also felt that victims do not receive the correct response or their woes are dismissed as growing pains in life. She stated that most bullies come from a family of bullies, and the problem can only be effectively resolved if the reasons behind the bullying are identified. She reminded of the many avenues available for seeking help in cyber bullying.
During the Q&A, Saidatul advised complainants to present proof and told that the MCMC cannot act against cyber bullies from overseas. Supt Chelvam responded that only the victims can press charges although reporting can be done by anyone.
About 50 people attended the forum moderated by SHSS Lecturer Irmadura Ramli, including WOU’s full-time students.