Cyber harassment, a new phenomenon with no objective definition
With the multiplication of electronic tools, communication channels and access to information, new forms of violence are emerging like cyber harassment. Indeed, although these technologies have many advantages, they also have the potential to turn into a negative experience.
It is from the 1990s onwards that currents of thought relating to cyber violence and cyber harassment developed. Even today, defining these concepts remains difficult. There is a lack of conceptual clarity and is used to talk about all forms of online violence. There is no consensus on their definition. For example, N. Willard defines cyber harassment as “defamation, harassment or discrimination, disclosure of personal information or humiliating, aggressive, vulgar language”. She does not consider repetition to be a condition of cyber harassment as is the case for so-called traditional harassment.
Violence facilitated by anonymity affecting mostly young people
As young people are the category of people who use the Internet and new technologies the most, they are the first to be affected by this phenomenon. They are going to be victims of mockery, threats, insults, sexual assaults, ostracism, rumours, dissemination of humiliating images, lynching… This can happen through different means such as e-mails, text message, instant messaging or social networks.
The particularity of this form of violence is that the aggressor will feel safe, he will dare more than if he had the victim in front of him. The fact of being somewhat anonymous has a disinhibiting effect on the aggressors. Moreover, the negative impact of this violence on the victim is invisible to the aggressor. In this sense, he will not be able to develop any form of sensitivity or empathy towards the victim.
The need for appropriate prevention
Cyberbullying will first of all have psychological consequences for young people. The victim will feel guilty, powerless and devalued. As a result, the victim will lose self-confidence and develop psychological disorders. These may include stress, anxiety, bad moods, shame, school or social phobia or depression. These disorders generally lead to physical problems such as sleep disorders, memory loss, nervousness, dizziness, eating disorders or even bodily mutilation.
Very often, cyberstalkers are young people in difficulty who have a bad relationship with their parents or teachers and who themselves have this dual status (victim, aggressor). It is therefore essential that both the victim and the perpetrator are helped by the parents and the school. It is important to set up a prevention system. This should be done through the action of parents as well as the school. The national education system has a fundamental role to play in transmitting the values associated with responsible use of the Internet. Teachers must therefore inform pupils and raise their awareness of the good practices to be adopted on the Internet. Parents will also be responsible for this prevention and it is up to them to remind children of the rules of common sense, the principles of precaution and respect for oneself and others.C