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‘The Joking and Bullying Controversy’

A society transforms itself in many ways and affects a nation deeply in a positive or a negative manner. Transformations always cause debates to take place in a society as the set traditions and cultures might be contradictory to some people while for others it is not a big deal. One of such debates that has aroused the reaction and emotions of people and made it a serious matter of concern is the ‘Joking’ and ‘Bullying’ controversy. Since many years this issue has been neglected by people, and it was never considered important by anyone. The word ‘bullying’ has not been taken seriously and people tend to replace this menacing act with a joke or a way of being humorous. Now, the question that arises is that what is meant by the word ‘bullying’? Being subjected to some kind of verbal, physical or even social disturbance is not something that should be acceptable in the society, nor is it something that should happen to anyone, it is an act that causes a person to feel insecure, pressurized, neglected, worthless or maybe inferior within a society that will lead that person to dropping himself out of all the social engagements and feel scared to be part of any. This act may become even worse for some people as they may try ending their lives by committing suicidal acts or desolating themselves from the cruel worldly life.

Our society has always made this mistake of not considering bullying a big deal and stating it as a humorous act or a way of being funny. We should condemn such humiliating statements that take away the ‘right of living’ of many people and not forfeit in front of these transgressing traditions that are causing many suppressing and unethical codes to take hold of our society and destroy many lives. It is crucial for everyone to distinguish between bullying and joking because they are not the same at all. The rise of this transgressing act has caused many other evils to take root in our culture such as Cyber bullying, School bullying and Workplace bullying being the major concerns nowadays.

According to a study that was done among 25 countries about cyber bullying, it was found that Pakistan does not stand at the first of the row in online bullying, yet it takes the twenty second highest rate in cyber bullying. But, children in Pakistan do have a background about Cyber bullying and know what it means and how they might be subjected to it in which 6 in every 10 children said that they know something about cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is referred to any act that is done by one person or a group of people towards another person over some type of technological tool, either mobile phones or the usage of the internet. This form of bullying can come in the form of text messages on mobiles, inbox messages on Facebook or any other social network where people can easily approach each other. It may take the form of hacking someone’s personal account and sharing their personal stuff with others just to make them feel threatened, pressurized or scared. With over 100 million users of smart phones in Pakistan, the country has been included in the list of the fastest growing countries that are using internet which only open the doors for the fact that cyber bullying is increasing as well, yet there isn’t any legislation for cyber crimes in Pakistan.

In 2007, General Pervez Musharraf introduced the Prevention of Electronic Crime Ordinance (PECO) which was in order to prevent terrorist or banned groups from accessing the internet for using propaganda against the military and to protect female members of the Parliament who were being harassed by abusive phone calls and text messages. However, this law aroused other debates as people who were far away from political matters argued that their security was still not maintained in PECO and that many definitions in it were incorrect. For example, the ordinance, that was sent for the NA for ratification, stated that sending indecent, provocative and ill motivated messages through e-mails and text messages was an offence and would result in 14 years of imprisonment along with the confiscation of property which was seen by a lot of people that it was too much for a minor issue, and on the other side, there were no provision in PECO that tackles the issue of child pornography and intellectual property theft. In short, there is no such law which fairly protects the rights and security of people who are affected by such acts of bullying and are easy targets like the women in Pakistan, because the National Response Center for Cyber Crimes (NR3C) does not have any legislation for cyber crimes such as hacking and online stalking.

There were several incidents that women faced regarding these issues. Once, two girls from a liberal arts college in Pakistan who decided to participate in an international sketching competition, were supposed to send sketches of nude self-portraits of themselves, so they asked a friend to photograph and send the pictures over to them via e-mail, but the secret was easily revealed because at the very same week the two girl’s e-mails were hacked and blackmailing threats started reaching them. Issues like these occur in many women’s lives nowadays.

Moreover, as cyber bullying is taking hold of today’s society, school and workplace bullying is also something that should be abhorred equally by everyone. Students who are bullied by others in school usually seem to be considered different in some way maybe because they are shy. They may have stage fright, they maybe introverted and do not have good communication skills like others or they may be subjected to problems like stammering, stuttering or any other physical disability. People who bully other students are usually in large groups, considered cool, and most of the times, famous. It is also seen that many of them tend to do this because they are bored, they might find this funny or this might make them the center of attention, which is what they tend to seek.

Studies have shown that children who are subjected to bullying acts are more likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression, low self-esteem, stress or anxiety, or else they might think about suicide. According to a study that was done in six medical colleges in Pakistan, it was found that from the 63% of the people who responded to the survey, 52% of the respondents reported that they had faced bullying or harassment during their medical education, and about 28% of them experiences it more frequently or even every month, and 57% of the bullying acts were verbal. Bullying at school leads to other problems that might last with the person, and because of that a lot of people consider bullying as a kind of violence, it is even estimated that 1 in every 4 children who have faced an act of bullying in elementary schools will have a criminal record at the age of 30.

Workplace bullying is just like school bullying, yet it is done where a person works as a professional. Any behavior that is unprofessional and unwanted that affects the dignity of an employer is usually unacceptable in the workplace and is considered as an act of bullying. Workplace bullying is when a person uses his power in an unjustifiable manner over a vulnerable colleague or an employee, which has been considered as a swearing word in the professional circuits. Research analysis showed that people who are subjected to acts of bullying in their workplaces usually talk with their friends and family about the incidents and some of them even look for other jobs, while 42% talk with their colleagues about their acts, and only 9% to 18% of the affected people put a formal complaint.

According to a Pakistani business review in 2011, it was found that there is a relation between popularity and bullying in workplaces, since the person who is popular is usually loved and appreciated by his employer and colleagues, the bully usually feels jealous towards that person, which leads him to committing some bullying acts towards the other person. This study showed also that in Pakistan female employers are more likely to be bullied by female bosses, while male employers are more likely to be bullied by male bosses. It was also stated that male employers are being bullied for their work performances while women are bullied for personal and moral values. Bullying in workplaces may reduce the staff turnover and demotivate them to work hard for the enterprise which in turn may reduce the revenue and profitability of the organization. It may also discourage people to pursue professional jobs and environment because of being bullied.

Bullying does no good but, suppresses many people whether in school or in a workplace. This should be discouraged and stopped immediately and it is possible in many ways like the victim may try to ignore the bully by letting him know that they are not affected by this act, people who witness anyone being bullied should raise their voice as this may scare the bullies off and the victims may find this hard but they should pen themselves up and speak up about their experience or incidents to their parents, friends, teachers or any person they consider could help them. Society may experience a drastic change if they unite for the betterment and join hands for such issues.