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Nov 30 2012

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Society should stand against cyber bullying


I have encountered bullies few different times and often it involves “friends” from school. The impact it had on my personality was very little to none because my parents have thought me to defend myself by improving my self-confidence. In this technologically driven communication age, the problem of cyber bullying goes much deeper than conventional bullies that I have encountered in the past. If you are not well prepared to defend your turf against the coward bullies even before they attack you, you will most likely lose the battle.

Jokes have limitations

The Indian philosopher, Buddha once said, “the tongue like a sharp knife, kills without drawing blood”. While according to British Archeologists, the statement is over 2500 years old, yet the principle behind this statement can not only be applied to notorious people like Adolf Hitler, but it can also be observed in our modern societies. In Calgary, many parents with girls going into Junior High and High school are concerned about likes and rumors that other girls spread about their daughters. From the type of dress all the way up to physical features to even biological lineage is not off limits for these kids at all. The worst part of this is that psychological tormenting does not end at school because kids are connected through the mobile phones and social networking sites.

It is quite different when bullying is constantly in once mind as proposed to old days where bullying is more direct and incremental. While I support jokes and friendly living, I do not support coward behaviors. Often what is considered as a “joke” by a bully can reach far beyond what we in 1970s called a joke. For example, telling a young girl, “You are so ugly and you should kill yourself” or telling a gay person “You are a homo” is not comparable to a bullying taking your lunch money at school. In fact, this type of behavior is eerily similar to speeches given by Adolf Hitler.

You can identify the group

If you fast forward to our next generation in universities and colleges, I have observed that there are two distinct groups of individuals involved in bullying. One is a group of people who were victims of bullying in the past (in one form or the other) and the other group is a group of people who are suffering from personal insecurities almost often caused by the relationships and family problems. Since was immigrated to Canada from South Asia, I have intimate knowledge on how bullies are created in the latter group described above.

Most students in higher education that take part in bullying in the second group are immigrants or children of immigrant decent. (Yes, I have the right to publish my true observations and you have the right to defense.) Compared to my very liberal family background, most other immigrant families from South Asia and Europe have strict conservative backgrounds. While there are a lot of conservative Canadians, what often considered as “conservative” in Canada is not the same in their back home. For example, Rumanian and Indian parents often don’t allow their young daughters to go to sleep over type parties. Another example would be how South Asian families force their kids to marry someone that they don’t even like. So, you may ask the question then why kids from the immigrant background turns to bullying?

Well, my parents are pure South Asians. They were born in Sri Lanka and lived there for over 40 good years. However, they are liberal Buddhist to the point that I don’t even remember the last time I went to a Buddhist temple. They never told me or my brother to follow family traditions nor force us to follow strict principles. In fact I recently learned that my great grandparents, both of my current great grandparents and my own parents fall in love and got married. My parents are not only open to the idea of their kids getting involved with girls from other ethnic, social and racial communities, they encourage it. My grandmother even recently asked why I don’t have a Canadian girlfriend. 🙁

This is not the family environment of most immigrant families. I found that those who try very hard to get involved the Canadian communities by drinking alcohol (against their values), going to clubs, trying to be “cool” etc are the same people, at home, were forced to follow traditions. The other side of this group is composed of individuals where their older family members (like their parents) were forced to follow outdated traditions while they were given the opportunity to flow any tradition they like. This part of the second group can be dangerous to the point in almost all cases of abusive behaviors are demonstrated by them. Since their parents were forced to do things such as going to Church or Temple every Sunday and going for arranged marriage, once they realized they were given the opportunity to let go of traditions, they take it to the extreme. Instead of going to religious places, they will go to night clubs and concerts every Sunday. Instead of going for an arrange marriage or for a relationship, they will go for hookers and drifters.

After facing cyber bullying for two years at hands of few students at the University of Calgary, today I realized that the people behind these attacks against me are most likely immigrants from South Asia. The strong evidence of jealousy and the nature of the attacks (such as the style of comments, medium of attack) clearly indicate that they are in fact South Asian students.

In June 2012, I have received several phone calls to my mobile device from young women who claim to like me. Using my technological skills, I have traced them back to a South Asian group at University of Calgary. Later on my website was attacked by massive number of messages that contains phases like, “are you a virgin”. To test my theory that these comments originated from a specific group I told one member of the group that the IP (Internet Protocol) address was traced to University of Calgary. As I expected the next few messages came outside of the University network. On late November, 2012 I kept getting messages from unknown people about a kijiji ad that apparently I posted with my name and cell phone number(which I did not do). They may not have realized this, but impersonating someone using their real personal information such as name and phone numbers are illegal in Canada.

Society is not willing to take responsibilities

In May 2011, a ten year old elementary school student, Ashlynn Conner in US committed suicide due to cyber bulling. While the US media at that time did cover the story in detail, once the heat has die down, it seems that government authorities and school board officials have completely forgot the seriousness of the issue. A similar incident occurred in Canada on October, 2012 which a young lady named Amanda Todd committed suicide as a direct (not to be confused with indirect) result of bullying. While it did initiated several strong reactions from the communities around the country, again, the Canadian society also fall behind creating laws and regulations to prevent or discourage bullying.

I know few of my friends who faced bullying have contacted the parents of the bully. What surprised them was that most of these people were that the parents of the bully blame the victim and support their sons and daughters who have been abusing others. In one case after the Principle wrote to the parents of the bully regarding their son’s behaviors at school, the parents have made threats to the school board saying their kid did nothing wrong and they will take legal actions against the school.

In my case, I have called few people and no one can help other than to sit and wait for evidence to pile up for years before taking any actions. This is a sad day for democratic values and freedoms where buying is actually a crime in Canada. Posting personal information on websites with intent to impersonate another is a textbook example of identity theft. However, like in the Ashlynn Conner’s case or Amanda Todd case the authorities are powerless and society is made of cowards.

Permanent link to this article: http://sanuja.com/blog/society-should-stand-against-cyber-bullying