How to handle cyber bullying?

| 01/08/2019 | 5 Comments

What is the procedure for dealing with online harassment in Cayman, and the protection of children involved? What happens in the cases of photos and/or videos posted of minors?


Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer: It is hard enough growing up without also having to navigate your way around bullies, especially in school, where so much time is spent during each day. Even though, or maybe especially because, we are in the middle of summer vacation this is an important topic to discuss. In fact, any time is a good time to talk about how to help children who are being harassed by their peers.

I suspect many people have suffered through the taunts, or worse, of a bully. The consequences for a victim can range from hurt feelings all the way up to suicide. And with social media being as pervasive as it is, the damaging effects of bullying can take on outrageous proportions. This is a problem that needs to be addressed now and, finally, proposed legislation is moving along, albeit way too slowly in my opinion, to mandate schools’ actions to prevent and punish bullying.

But until those pieces of legislation are enacted, we have to look at more general laws already on the books for help, which an RCIPS spokesman guided me through.

There are several laws that could be used to combat cyber bullying, depending on the circumstances of the case. I will point you to each that you can then take a closer look at. One possible legal recourse can be found in Section 90(1) of the Information and Communications Technology Law 2017, which says, in part, “A person who knowingly uses an ICT network or ICT service to defraud, abuse, annoy, threaten or harass any other person commits an offence.”

The Penal Code (2019 Revision) also has several relevant sections including Section 64 (Publication of false statements, etc, likely to cause fear and alarm in the public); Section 88 (Harassment, alarm or distress); Section 154 (Common nuisance); Section 155 (Stalking); and Section 210 (Reckless and negligent acts).

The RCIPS spokesperson then explained, “In a lot of these cases, the police would need persons who are victims of cyber bullying or making a complaint about the matter to provide a statement and be willing to go to court and give evidence in order for an investigation to make headway.”

I realise that it is much easier said than done for a young person to pluck up the courage to make an official complaint, but this is where a parent’s guidance and support would be vital in helping their child through that difficult process.

As for the posting of videos and photos of minors which, in the most serious cases, can take us down a very dark path, the applicable part of the Penal Code is Offences Relating Children, with the relevant sections including 228A (Indecent photographs of children). I’m afraid that is all I have the stomach to pass along, but there are lots more offences listed in various parts of Section 228.

Having noted these legislative remedies, I need to stress that if the bullying has reached the stage where law enforcement has to be involved, the system is in great need of repair (hence the implementation of anti-bullying legislation mandating the action schools must take cannot happen fast enough). I realise I don’t have to say that bullying has been around forever, in varying forms, but the online element has also been an issue for long enough that our powers-that-be should have tackled this head-on years ago.

But it is not just the government’s fault. Society has clearly failed many of the kids who only know how to relate to their peers through name-calling, insults and much worse.

There is also a mental health component to this issue, and Cayman is still woefully lacking in diagnosis and treatment of those members of our population whose illnesses require specialised care and medication.

Clearly bullying is a pernicious, multifaceted problem requiring the involvement of a variety of agencies. And while I don’t have the solution, I certainly know there is a problem, and the passage of anti-bullying legislation is an important step to take.

Read the draft Education (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Anti-Bullying (Schools) Regulations, 2019 on the Law Reform Commission website.

The laws mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Kids could play sports or go fly a kite. But no, they want to be constantly in touch by social media to be ‘accepted’ by their peers. They could also try to write a letter and mail it to their friends with a postage stamp , then wait for a reply to P.O. box.
    That would be a great school project . Ban all social media and phone for a month , make them write letters and mail them/ wait for a postal response. There is a reality check for you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The worst cyber bully on the island is Cayman Marl Road and government does nothing to stop it.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Social media started off as a good idea and I embraced it. Now our children have lost the ability to vocally express themselves. I soon learned that it consumes huge amounts of time and I disconnected from whatsapp, messenger, facebook etc. Best decision I made in a long time. Now people call on me and phone me. Disconnecting will filter out the ‘fake friends’.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I knew it was coming. Now we are looking at the government everybody loves to hate to solve yet another social ill. It’s pretty simple, stay off social media, and find more positive constructive things to do. Stop buying kids tablets to occupy their time. Limit and monitor all internet usage.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How to prevent “cyber bullying” 101

    Step 1: Stop being a wuss and a victim class participant

    Step 2: Block the user from your WhatsApp, Messenger, Email and/or whatever social media you have

    Step 3: Stay off of social media, it’s full of mental STD’s

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