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 What can you do when you're cyberbullied?
Published October 9, 2013 7:56pm
It's easy to turn off moral and social filters on Facebook and Twitter, making social media a rife breeding ground for cyberbullies—whose activities can and often do go unchecked. But that doesn't mean there's nothing anyone can do about it.

“For students of top-tier schools, the platform they use for bullying is Twitter and some popular apps on iOS,” explains cyberbullying expert Sonnie Santos. “While their counterpart in public schools is Facebook.”

At the moment, there are no official cyberbullying statistics, said Santos, but the recently signed Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 will ensure the availability of statistics in the future. He also said that based on his experiences of engaging students, guidance counselors, and parents at the seminars he conducts at schools, “cyber bullying is a common case and the students have a blurred distinction of fun and cyber bullying.”

He has seen more female victims seeking advice than male ones.

Two types of cyberbullying

According to Santos, there are two types of cyberbullying in the Philippines: the cyber mob (like what happened to Chris Lao and Jamie Paula Salvosa); and the day-to-day cyberbullying that remains under-reported.

Recently, one Devina DeDiva found herself the recipient of much vitriol after she called Filipinos “poor, underprivileged, and smelly from cleaning toilets” after Megan Young bagged this year's Miss World crown.

As an example of under-reported incidents, writer China Jocson wrote about her experience as a target of cyberbullying just for issues related to people she happened to be connected with.

For defending her university's stand on the Reproductive Health Bill against a conservative rival university, Nikki received numerous threats from students claiming to be from the latter institution. Some even threatened her not to venture out of her own campus.

“Okay, anong gagawin (nila) paglabas ko?” said Nikki of her ordeal. However, she remained unfazed: “I think magiging bullying lang ang cyberbullying depende sa magiging reaction mo as the one being 'bullied.'”

Also earlier this year, college instructor Karlo's Facebook timeline and WordPress blog were swamped by angry students from a local university after he publicly questioned the institution's high standing in a recent survey of Asian schools.

“My statements (were) public, and an understandable backlash from followed,” he added. “The whole shebang made me reevaluate my friends on Facebook, and I opted to deactivate the account indefinitely, though the backlash continued on my blog. I got a barrage of insinuations that I was bitter because none of the universities I graduated from or teach at got into the list.

“I was called, among other rather uncreative insults, a 'loser.' Even my mother was mocked; my Facebook banner photo featured her. The vast majority of the backlash, really, tried to point out I had bad grammar.”

Worse than in real life

Santos explained that the effect of cyberbullying is worse than real-world "offline" bullying because the latter is confined to time and space, whereas cyberbullying is not.

“Bullycide (bullying induced suicide) is common in the west,” said Santos. “While we don't have reported cases in the Philippines, one person who sought our help confessed suicide came to his mind. Likewise, Atty. Chris Lao also admitted it crossed his mind.”

Depression for cyberbullied victims is common. In fact, testimonies of at least two well-known cyberbullied victims—Jamie Paula Salvosa and Atty. Chris Lao—said they went through fear, depression, and unexplained sadness. Lao, in particular, said for a time, his body refused to receive any liquid or foo

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