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Cyber Bullied Via Facebook

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By Joel Mitchel Kanny

cyberbullying-freezone

In 2013, when I was in Year 8 in an International School in Subang, I became an unwitting victim of cyber bullying. Looking at my peers then I was excited about having my own Facebook page and although my parents were quite sceptical about it; they nevertheless acquiesced on condition that they too befriend me on Facebook so that they are made aware of the goings on and friends I keep in touch with in the cyber world. It couldn’t have been a better blessing in disguise.

What in fact happened in the subsequent harrowing months was that someone else had created another Facebook account using my name and added new ‘friends’ by pretending  to be me. Friends (and teachers) who were on my real Facebook accepted the friendship request from the impostor who then went on and unleashed the most vile and defamatory allegations on others.

I was cornered by the school authorities and some teachers who judging from my quiet and reserved nature actually thought I was the perpetrator who wrote insulting, malicious and vulgar comments about them on the postings as well as private messages. I was really upset and hurt because nobody believed me but eventually I plucked the courage to tell my parents about what was happening to me in school then.

My parents then went out of the way to prove to the school that I was in fact innocent. My mother went through the Facebook of the impostor and those of mine with a fine tooth comb if I may describe it as such and took screenshots and gathered other evidence to prove that my Facebook was actually duplicated. As fate would have it, unbeknownst to the impostor, I was hospitalised for pneumonia for several days and the impostor had gone on posting lewd remarks and such on Facebook without even realising I was sick and hooked up to drips and certainly not in the right frame to be ‘Facebooking’. With information gathered by my parents including time and dates when the postings were on going (whilst I was sick in the hospital), they met up with the school principal and teachers with the evidence gathered. Based on what was provided to them, the school then absolved me of all blame. The principal even went a step further to apologise to me which really meant a lot.

On hindsight I now understand why teachers and friends thought I was responsible for whatever that transpired. For one, I revealed too much information to my ‘friends’ in school about myself and about my family, like where we went for holidays, what we did on weekends, what favourite shows my little sister watched and etc. The impostor who created the fake account knew all this information and put it out bit by bit for those he/she befriended and this made most of them believe that such information could have only come from me.

This incident taught me to be careful. For one I am careful about whom I befriend on Facebook and I do not accept friend requests from strangers. I have also been very careful about what I reveal to my ‘friends’ in school. Not everyone who is seemingly friendly has your best interest at heart. Cyber bullies I believe have a real psychological problem whereby they get their kick from controlling and manipulating the life of another and making life a living hell for others irrespective of whether they know or don’t know the other person.

In a situation like this it is so important to have parental and family support. I am glad I allowed my parents to be my Facebook friends. It was because they were my friends on Facebook that they were able to track and prove with conviction that I was not responsible for all that transpired. Most youngsters may not want their parents to be Facebook friends because they feel embarrassed or want their privacy. But you will never know. Your parents will always have your back and nothing matters more than your family believing in you.

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Joel is a 16 year-old who hopes that other’s can learn from his experience.

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