Friday, November 13, 2015

Render your support for child victims of cyber crimes
Bal diwas or children’s day is observed all over India on 14th November, the birth date of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India.  In the earlier days children’s days were celebrated especially to celebrate the child rights, spread awareness against child labour and about necessity of education and good values among children. But with the passing of the time, the need for using children’s day for addressing different child related issues was realised by child right activists, NGOs, schools and also the government. Considering that this is the age of internet and children are smarter than adults ( in many aspects) when it comes to use of internet and digital communication technology, it becomes very important to include a session to let the children express their own opinion as how they would like to see the internet –connected world around them.  Any research on usage of smart phones may show that there is a difference in ratio of social media users and smart phone users (who may use sophisticated phones but not social media). CCVC conducted one research last year titled “”Harassment via WhatsApp in Urban and rural India (see ) which showed such difference as well as the types of harassments one may receive through WhatsApp. Nonetheless, children from the age group of 5/6 are also using such technology and they have become experts in sending/receiving/sharing contents. What bothers me is when a minor user gets trapped in the tangled net, he/she feels extremely panicked because there is generally no adult with whom he /she may share the information who can guide him/her properly. This is mainly because the child may have used digital communication technology and shared contents without letting the parents or elders know about it. Often parents or elders tend to keep the children busy with tabs or smart phones and they may never know what sorts of dangerous habits they are introducing to children.  The later not only start experimenting with the camera devices, they may also access unwanted staff not only on internet, but also those stored in the phone or tab itself. I have seen many children using parent’s Facebook or WhatsApp accounts to send unwanted contents to other ‘friends’ . Have we ever thought how children are growing their own network of friends through their parent’s profiles? It is ‘experience’ that makes them perfect to communicate with their known friends and then venture for unknown. Often children ask their classmates to log in through their parents’ profiles at particular times.  Slowly they venture to a new world of surfing alone or even creating their own identities in social media alone. For this transition, it does not take much time. Consider the scene at local parks, busy market areas or shops.... you would get to see every second child trying to take a video or photo and invariably, he/she may circulate it via Whatsapp or any similar messaging platforms to his/her relatives or parents’ friends whom he /she tracks for updates.
This habit, if not properly guided, may turn dangerous for the photographer as well as the subjects. While stakeholders are concerned about effects of cyber bullying, one must understand that presently video graphing  hitting, pushing, physical bullying and circulating the same to others ( which is also called happy slapping) is becoming a chosen trend for youngsters. Because of children’s curiosity to learn the new technology, perpetrators may misuse them as ‘agents’ of criminal activities and even use them as victims. There are many resources to know what sorts of victimisations are happening targeting children and matured teens. But how about motivating the victim child to come out of the trauma and not to turn into an offender him/herself? In my recent publication where I have explained our theory called “irrational coping theory” in relation to cyber crimes,(Halder, D., & Jaishankar, K. (2015). Irrational Coping Theory and Positive Criminology: A Frame Work to Protect Victims of Cyber Crime. In N. Ronel and D. Segev (Eds.), Positive Criminology (pp. 276 -291). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-74856-8.) it was shown how victims may turn into offenders by taking up irrational coping mechanism and then turn into offenders themselves.  This children’s day should be taken as a day to spread such awareness among all, especially to  those children who had been victimised . In this connection, I must mention about a video I came across in Facebook. The video running for less than two minutes showed the changes in facial expression of a woman who had been targeted by curious people to answer several unwanted and hurting questions and comments. At the end of the video her face lit up when she started speaking about a few people who came up to her to support and share their own experiences. Her face no longer showed the pain, disgust, insult or anger. Any victim, including victims of cyber crimes, especially child victims, undergoes similar situations when they have to encounter the after effects of victimisation. When a child victim of cyber crime cannot share the details of victimisation to people near to him/her anticipating more harassment, scolding and even physical beating or hitting, he/she feels extremely pressurised to take measures which are extremely dangerous. There are umpteen numbers of examples of children trying to contact hackers, attempting to commit suicide or getting severe depression due to the cyber harassment: all such decisions may also be caused due to this particular issue of not being able to communicate with elders, especially parents and considerate teachers.  If children are more open with their parents and teachers on such issues and the later reciprocates to their needs, the situation can be much different.
Considering this need, on behalf of Centre for Cyber victim Counselling, I have developed a model policy guideline for students, which every school should consider following. The policy guideline titled “Model policy guidelines for directing students for Positive use of internet including social networking sites and WhatsApp”( please cite it as Halder.D(2015), "Model policy guidelines for directing students for Positive use of internet including social networking sites and WhatsApp". URL: was earlier published in my article titled “Children of internet era: A critical analysis of vulnerability of children in the darker sides of social media and WhatsApp”, (Published in the Conference proceedings of two days international conference on Accompanying social networking in teacher education, held on 26th and 27th March, 2015 by Loyola college of education, Chennai. Pg nos. 17-24.) This policy guideline can help children of internet era to use internet and digital communication technology in a positive way. Not only this; it can also help parents and teachers to get connected with children and build a unique learning experience.
Let us pledge on this children’s day to be positive supports for our children so that they don’t have to opt for irrational coping mechanism.

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2015), “Render your support for a child victim of cyber crime”
”, 14th November, 2015 , published in

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