Cyberbullying and online harassment prevalent in Nagaland

Cyberbullying and online harassment prevalent in Nagaland
Cyberbullying and online harassment prevalent in Nagaland

Most people experiencing cyber bullying, trolling or harassment do not come forward and talk about it due of lack of awareness and education towards these issues in Nagaland. (Image for representational purposes only)


Aotula Pongen
Dimapur | July 1

Bullying has shifted from the real world to the virtual world where it is a place full of predators that stalk and harass unsuspecting victims. Many people experiencing cyberbullying or harassment in Nagaland, however, do not come forward with the issue to resolve them, say practitioners dealing with such matters.  


According to UNICEF, “Cyberbullying involves posting or sending electronic messages including text, pictures or videos, aimed at harassing, threatening or spreading rumours of another person via digital platforms such as social networks online, chat rooms, blogs, etc”. A study from Ipsos to determine cyberbullying rates in 2018 stated that India had the highest rate i.e. 37% of confirmed cases of cyberbullying.


With the increase in social media usage platforms like instagram, whatsapp and facebook, people are at higher risk to get trolled or attacked virtually by cyber bullies. Victims of such cyberbullying are often subject to emotional distress and low self-esteem leading to depression.



Need of awareness
 “In Nagaland, most of the people who experience cyber bullying, trolling or harassment do not come in front and talk about it because of lack of awareness and education towards these issues,” says Dr. Viketoulie Pienyu, Senior Psychiatrist at the State Mental Health Institute, Kohima.


He notes that cyber bullies are “arrogant, frustrated in life—they act on their aggression and revenge motive, releasing aggression towards unsuspecting victims on the internet.”


Awheno Terhuja Medom, Clinical Psychologist at Civil Hospital, Dimapur, while speaking to The Morung Express said that “victims come to her suffering from depression symptoms over cyberbullying because of the trauma they face. They develop depression symptoms, feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, and the stress begins to impact their lives in a negative way.”


“They are at loss of what to do next as their personal details are already on the net. Information spreads like wild fire and the shame associated with it and family name factors cause constant stress. While they are recovering from the incident, other people keep bringing the issue up serving as a constant reminder which further fuels their stressed state.”



Ways to seek help
About seeking help on cases of cyber harassment, she said that “Women’s cell of the police department is the place most women go to.” She also advised that “family and friends should empathise with them and not demoralise them. If the situation is out of hand, family should not point fingers and blame the victim but to give them support by helping them think of alternative solutions of how to cope with the situation as best as they can.”


“It is important to limit the time use of social networking sites because it is impossible to avoid cyberbullying altogether as well as people’s response to comments. Also to not give unnecessary, silly or harsh comments online,” adds Dr Pienyu.


People do not realise that the emotional stress it cause can have serious consequences to one’s mental health and self esteem.



Accounts of victims
One such victim of cyber bullying described how someone made a fake account of hers on facebook twice, where they pretended to be her and blocked her original account. The second time her account was hacked, the hacker started “flirting” with other users while pretending to be her. She felt distressed and confused as to why someone would harass her like such.


Another victim on Instagram narrated that other users questioned his sexuality for applying certain make-up products, asked for his contact and hurled abuses at him all the while hiding behind an anonymous commentary app called Sarahah. Such harsh comments made him feel demoralised and attacked. It’s still continuing, he states. However, he now tries his best to ignore the abuses.  



Cyberbullying preventions
Atsung Imchen, an administrator of The Naga Blog, a facebook pages which witnesses a lot of participation from the Naga people on the internet said that “Fake profiles tend to do more damage compared to those holding a genuine profile in sites like facebook. People without proper identifications in their profile are mostly the ones who indulge in such activities.”


As administrators, if a comment is found hateful to an individual or community, the users are removed from the group and that is why so much is stressed on maintaining a genuine name and at least one photograph in the album to claim who they say they are. These measures in the long run, help maintain the decorum of the group, says Atsung.


Cyberbullying is different from bullying and special attention from parents and schools are required. Cyber bullying and trolling is a serious offence that has legal repercussions in India according to Section 66A in the amended IT Act, punishable under the current IT/Cyber/Criminal laws of up to three years of jail time with a fine.


Dr. Temsulong Longkumer, psychiatrist at the State Mental Health Institute, Kohima states that awareness is the key to tackle the issue. “Not everybody is aware that cyberbullying is present in our society. Education is important to prevent cases of cyberbullying as such cannot be totally avoided,” he adds.

The writer is currently an intern at The Morung Express.