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Cyber bullying occurs throughout the world and is indiscriminant to race and ethnicity. Although the data received so far is largely from younger age groups, the cyber problem extends beyond high school into the workplace for adults as well. In recent years, i-phone, i-pad, and computer technology have become standard equipment for people of all ages. However, unlike the older generations, school-age children use technology as well as social media platforms with much higher frequency and so statistically places them at greater risk. There are still discrepancies in the level of cyber bullying between countries which is due primarily to differences in technology availability and access.
As communication technology becomes less expensive and more accessible, opportunities for cyber harassment broadens. Nearly half of Americans under 35 report they have been bullied, harassed, defamed, or threatened online, with women making up 57 percent of those targeted. Legislation addressing cyber harassment in the Unites States is still patchy. Although there are a handful of laws at the federal level for cases of cyber-stalking, 62 percent of respondents polled said that cyber harassment laws are not strong enough or are nonexistent. Unlike many other countries who acknowledge cyber harassment as a crime and have installed tough laws to curb the growing problem, the US has taken a more lackadaisical approach despite case after case of suicide in both youth and adult groups.
In Australia, there is no national consensus on what constitutes bullying, which hampers efforts to fight the problem. The most commonly used measure of bullying behavior is the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Recently over 20,000 students in Australian schools, aged 8 to 14, completed surveys about bullying. The results were published in the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study. Not all cases are reported because many students feel that nothing can be done, so the true figures would be even more disturbing. It showed almost 30% of students were bullied every few weeks or more during a term of school and that frequent bullying was most commonly reported by younger students. The statistics also show that girls are more likely to bully in covert ways, with students beginning this behavior as early as Year 3 in school.
Singapore has recently been ranked #2 in the world for cyber bullying incidents per capita, right after China. 58% of Singaporean students surveyed have reported some kind of cyber bullying experience during their school years. In response to the sudden surge, Singapore has become one of the first countries to offer legal protection against cyber-bullying with the introduction of a new bill known as the Protection from Harassment Bill. The new bill makes it illegal to stalk someone in the cyber world or the physical world with offenses carrying up to $4,000 in fines or a jail sentence of up to 1 year, or both. The proposals would also strengthen the law on existing offenses of harassment and the threat or provocation of violence, by making the same standards of what constitutes harassment in the physical world an offense online as well.
According to the latest information, China is number one in cyber bullying worldwide. Findings show that cyber bullying among high school students in central China is relatively common with over 70% reporting having been bullied by someone online. Significant gender differences were also found, suggesting that boys are more likely to be involved in cyber bullying both as perpetrators and victims. Students with lower academic achievement were more likely to be perpetrators online than were students with better academic achievement. Students who spend more time on online, have access to the internet in their bedrooms, and are frequently involved in instant messaging and other forms of online entertainment, are more likely to experience cyber bullying.
The Philippines are considered 4th in the world for cyber bullying incidents. There is speculation that this may be due to the anti-bullying act of 2013 that was recently signed in the Philippines and strongly criminalizes acts of bullying in schools. It is said now that the problem is in the spotlight with strict laws in the country, statistics have begun to reflect occurrences more frequently. The anti-bullying act dictates that elementary and secondary schools are expected to come-up with their own strategies, policies and procedures in accordance with the anti-bullying act. It also dictated that the Department of Education in the Philippines must come up with implementation of rules and regulations related to preventing all types of bullying defined as: severe or repeated use of physical acts or gestures, written and electronic expressions that instigate fear, emotional harm, damage to property, creation of a hostile environment and infringement of rights of other students. The extensive law lumped together acts of physical bullying, social bullying, verbal bullying and cyber bullying.
A recent Microsoft study found that over half of Indian children surfing the internet face cyber bullying, threats, and harassment. According to cybercrime experts, schools in India are far less equipped to handle cyber bullying and crimes involving minors than comparable schools in other countries such as the United States and the UK. The graveness of online bullying has generally not only been misunderstood but tends to be trivialized by many parents and school authorities. Legal representatives in India say that the awareness level of cybercrimes in the country is low and that investigative bodies are below global standards when it comes to reporting and acting on cyber violations.
Currently, there is no legal definition of cyber bullying within UK law, but there are a number of existing laws that can be applied to cases of cyber bullying and online harassment which include: The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, The Communications Act 2003, the Breach of the Peace (Scotland), and the Defamation Act 2013. However, according the shadow minister Helen Goodman, laws regarding online abuse remain confused.
Results from the latest Canadian surveys indicate that the most common form of bullying reported by almost 3 quarters of cyber bullying victims in the country involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages. The second most common form of bullying, reported by 55% of those surveyed, was being the target of hateful comments. 8% of victims had had their identity assumed by someone sending threatening e-mails. The survey showed that the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia experience the highest frequency of cyber bullying.