Harsher punishment only solution to stop cyber bullying

By Liu Jianxi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/18 21:35:59

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT


The death of Corgi, named Lion, keeps simmering. After the Chinese woman surnamed He from Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, was accused of throwing the dog out of a sixth-storey window for the cash dispute with Lion's owner, her personal information including phone number, home address and even social insurance records appeared online.

Although He later apologized by saying that Lion was accidentally killed as she was trying to lower it from the balcony with a scarf and rope, netizens continue to send disgusting wreaths and other funeral items to He's apartment, throw rubbish at her doorstep and even threaten to harass her daughter.

What He did to the poor dog, if true, is unacceptable, but disclosure of He's private information and relentless harassment of her family members is cyber bullying. Anyone with basic legal knowledge will know that Corgi's case should be left to the police, but still netizens took radical retaliatory measures against the alleged dog killer to vent their ire.

Some are merely pleasure-seekers who have no sympathy for poor Lion but are ready to create trouble just for fun. There are reports that some netizens bought worms and wreaths from online stores, save screenshots of the receipts, but later cancel the order after posting the screenshots on WeChat moments. For such people, Lion's death is just another after-dinner talk. Their excitement over the incident further highlights the seriousness of cyber bullying in China.

From the harassment of Liu Xin who allegedly kept the door closed while her roommate was stabbed outside, to insulting attacks against Li Xiaolu, an actress accused of being disloyal to her husband, to revelations of He's private information online, there is no end to cases of cyber bullying.

While online vigilantes dedicate themselves to so-called justice, few of them realize that their insults, threats, rumors and aggressive words are a form of psychological abuse that will bring immeasurable peril. "There have been several high-profile cases involving teenagers taking their own lives in part because of being harassed and mistreated over the Internet," according to Cyberbullying Research Center.

Earlier this month, Amy Everett, an Australian model, chose to end her life to escape being tormented online. Although specifics of the bullying haven't been given so far, Everett's parents blamed recent online harassments for their daughter's death and later launched a #stopbullyingnow campaign to help other bullied people.

Those involved in cyber bullying deserve harsh punishment. The administrative detention of the woman throwing rubbish at He's doorstep is surely an encouraging move that can deter future harassment. But while criticizing and punishing those who committed cyber bullying, more attention should be paid to the reason that makes people turn to the internet rather than the police for help.

In the dog's case, the owner called the police when she found Lion missing, but no significant progress was seen. Anxious to get her dog back, the owner posted her experiences on Weibo moment, which immediately attracted a great deal of attention and support online. With netizens' joint efforts, the alleged dog killer's residential address was dug out within days. It seems netizens can offer help faster than police in some cases, a sad truth that cannot be denied.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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