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The Ugly Reality Of Cyberbullying: Understanding The Issue

"The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow"-Bill Gates

As the use of social media and the internet has increased, cyberbullying has become a significant problem affecting people of all ages. Cyberbullying occurs over electronic platforms like social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, and cell phones. It is a sophisticated and covert form of verbal and textual bullying that entails a pattern of behaviour meant to frighten, enrage, or shame the target. Online bullying is more deadly than traditional bullying since it is anonymous, and it is also more difficult to stop because the victim isn't aware that they are being harmed.

One of the most concerning effects of cyberbullying on psychological health. Cyberbullying victims may experience emotions of isolation and loneliness, as well as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, a decline in academic performance, and other psychiatric illnesses. Cyberbullying can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or country of origin.

Cyberspace has developed into a genuine world devoid of laws and civilisation because it is challenging in a systematised and organised society, even though the rule of law is intended to prevail and order and authority exist to protect citizens.
  • Harassment: This is any inappropriate physical or verbal behavior that aims to make another person feel distressed, afraid, or worried. In the context of cyberbullying, harassment can take many different forms, such as sending messages or frequently releasing harmful content, for which offenders may be subject to fines or jail time in some circumstances.
  • Impersonation: Establishing false identities for profiles or accounts in an effort to undermine and defame the victim.
  • Exclusion: Willfully excluding someone from online conversations or groups, or spreading lies about the victim to keep them away from their peer group.
  • Cyberstalking is the practice of watching someone else's online activities or personal life while using that knowledge to harass, intimidate, or threaten the victim.
  • Sexting: Obtaining pornographic images or videos from a victim under duress and disseminating them without the victim's consent.

Legal repercussions:
Cyberbullying can have a range of legal repercussions depending on how serious the behaviour is. Prosecutors frequently cite existing laws when dealing with cyberbullying incidents, and criminal harassment statutes are used as a foundation for rendering decisions in significant situations such as suicides or other terrible events. Here are a few instances of legal repercussions:
  • Criminal charges: If cyberbullying involves harassment, hate speech, or threats, there may be legal repercussions. Cyberbullying is forbidden in several countries, including the US. In some circumstances, cyberbullying may be considered a kind of cyberstalking, which is against the law.
  • Civil culpability: Cyberbullying may also result in civil liability. Cyberbullying victims have the right to file a lawsuit against the offender for damages including emotional distress, reputational harm, and other associated losses. In some circumstances, parents of minors who engage in cyberbullying may be held responsible for their children's behavior.
  • School repercussions: Cyberbullying may result in school-related problems. Many schools have anti-cyberbullying guidelines in place, and students who violate them may be subject to disciplinary measures including suspension or expulsion.
  • Workplace repercussions: Employees who engage in cyberbullying may face disciplinary action, which may include termination, as well as other workplace consequences. In some cases, employers may be held accountable for workplace cyberbullying. [1]
  • Although there isn't a specific law in India that prohibits cyberbullying, the following rules do exist:
    • According to Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, if someone is subjected to criminal intimidation through an anonymous message, the offender might spend up to two years in prison.[2]
    • According to Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code, violators who attempt to violate a woman's modesty through words or deeds�which can also be done through electronic means�by invading the woman's privacy are subject to a year in jail, a fine, or both. [3]
    • Among other things, the Information Technology Act of 2000's Section 66A regulates the dissemination of offensive materials through communication services. This Section provided a means for actual victims of online abuse to get instant relief from potentially humiliating or hurtful content. Police officials are now powerless in the face of the growing threat of cyberbullying.
    • A person who intentionally violates someone's privacy might receive up to three years in prison or a fine of up to three lakhs under Section 66E of the IT Act. [4]

Additionally, in colleges and institutions that have received UGC approval, anti-ragging committees have been constituted. Furthermore, according to the UGC, institutions and universities must adhere to the anti-ragging policy in order to maintain their accreditation.

Case law:
In the historic ruling of Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997), the Supreme Court acknowledged cyberbullying as a problem for the first time. The Supreme Court established rules and procedures in this case to safeguard women from sexual harassment when dealing with bullying. In the 2015 case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which protected cyberbullying in India, was overturned.

In Sazzadur Rahman v. The State of Assam and Others, the defendant made a false Facebook page for the victim, who was 15 years old. The accused used the victim's name in the fake profile, posted lewd photos of her, and made disparaging comments about her, which led to the victim's mental instability and prevented her from advancing academically.

The accused's request pursuant to Section 311 of the CrPC was denied by the trial judge. Following that, a petition under CrPC sections 482 read with 401/397 was submitted to the Gauhati High Court seeking to have the trial court's decision set aside. In rejecting the case, the Guwahati High Court ruled that neither the revisional jurisdiction nor Section 482 CrPC permitted interference with the trial Court's discretion, which appeared to have been used wisely in light of pertinent information.

The victim in Shubham Bansal v. The State (Govt of NCT Delhi) experienced discomfort, insult, and harassment as a result of the accused's creation of a fraudulent Facebook account using Nidhi Taneja's name and the victim's phone number. A FIR was then filed against the accused. The matter was remanded to the Metropolitan Magistrate for review after the victim submitted a new application under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC asking that the investigating officer conduct more investigation.

The accused then asked for the abandonment of the case against him in accordance with Sections 66A of the IT Act and 509 of the IPC. The Delhi High Court refused to consider the accused's argument, but it did instruct the investigating officer to hold off on submitting his final report until the Magistrate made a decision on the victim's pending application.

The honourable court stated that the investigating officer was free to submit a report based on the inquiry's findings up to that point, reserving the right to submit a follow-up challan or report in response to the victim's ongoing request for additional investigation under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC.[5] [6]

Strategies for prevention and intervention:
Parents, schools, and law enforcement must all work together to prevent and address cyberbullying. Some strategies for stopping and addressing cyberbullying include:
  • Education: Raising awareness of the dangers of cyberbullying among kids, parents, and educators can help avoid it. In order to raise awareness of cybercrime among students and teachers, schools should conduct anti-bullying initiatives and teach children about internet safety, privacy, and responsible online behavior.
  • Internet monitoring: In order to spot instances of cyberbullying or cybervictimization, parents and educators should keep an eye on their kids' online conduct. It's important to encourage kids to use the reporting features that are available on many social media sites, which allow users to report abusive behavior.
  • Communication: Encouraging open communication between kids, parents, and teachers can help stop cyberbullying before it becomes a major issue. Students should be encouraged to report any instances of bullying or abuse by their parents, teachers, and peers.
  • Legal Intervention: In some circumstances, cyberbullying may constitute a criminal offense. Cyberbullying incidents can be investigated by law enforcement, and offenders can be brought to justice.
  • Create Safe areas: Schools and other groups should create safe areas where students may talk about issues like cyberbullying. By doing so, the humiliation associated with bullying may be lessened.
  • Implement penalties: People who engage in cyberbullying should suffer penalties. In extreme cases, this could result in expulsion from school, a ban on using the internet, or legal action.
Cyberbullying is a severe problem that can have long-term effects on individuals and society. To protect yourself and others from the detrimental impacts of cyberbullying, it is critical to increase awareness about it and educate students, parents, and educators about its hazards. Cyberbullying prevention and intervention necessitate a collaborative effort from parents, schools, and law enforcement. We can make the internet a safer place for everyone if we all work together.[7][8]

  1. Stopbullying.Gov, (last visited April 18, 2023)
  2. Indian Kanoon, (last visited April 22, 2023)
  3. Myadvo.In, (last visited April 22, 2023)
  4. The Information Technology Act, 2000 � India Code, (last visited April 22, 2023)
  5. Vinod Joseph and Mitali Jain, India: Anti-Cyber Bullying Laws In India - An Analysis (2020)
  6. Shikha Bhatnagar, Cyber Bullying: A brief Analysis, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA
  7. What is Cyber Bullying or Anti-Bullying Laws in India, MYADVO.IN
  8. Ferrara, P., Ianniello, F., Villani, A. et al. Cyberbullying a modern form of bullying: let's talk about this health and social problem. Ital J Pediatr 44, 14 (2018).

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