Wider-range cyberbullying experienced by Filipino youth: DLSU study

·3 min read
A depressed young woman experiencing cyberbullying online reads hate messages on her smart phone late at night on bed. (Photo: Getty Images)
A depressed young woman experiencing cyberbullying online reads hate messages on her smart phone late at night on bed. (Photo: Getty Images)

New research from De La Salle University has found that Filipino youth experience a wider range of bullying and harassment on social media than earlier studies had identified.

In a report titled "How Filipino Youth Identify and Act on Bullying and Harassment on Social Media", the research team identified that cyberbullying could be aimed not only at individuals, but also at groups, ideas, or beliefs.

“Bullying and harassment can be aimed at individuals. Beyond this, online posts, memes, and the like can also be aimed at groups like the queer community and ideas like believing in a particular political stance,” research team member Dr. Jan Bernadas said.

The DLSU study led by Prof. Cheryll Soriano involves in-depth interviews with 152 Filipino youth of different genders and educational status.

The report resulted from a two-year research project covering Metro Manila, Batangas in Luzon, Negros Occidental in Visayas, and Misamis Occidental in Mindanao.

The study noted that although victimization usually manifests through direct attacks on individuals, “the emphasis on groups and ideas as targets extends the argument that online bullying is an inter-group phenomenon and involves social processes.”

That cyberbullying could be directed “at individuals, groups, or ideas” also implied “that there is fluidity and normalization of bullying among the youth within their day-to-day social relationships,” it added.

“The research spotlights how young Filipinos, aged 15-24, describe cyberbullying as having many possible targets, as manifested in many kinds of online actions, and as happening across many digital spaces,” the university said in a statement.

“Bullying and harassment can be direct and in your face. But it can be veiled because you can just subtweet someone or talk about a person who isn’t part of the group chat you’re in,” Prof. Jason Cabañes, another author and team member, said.

He added that bullying can also be “concealed in the form of jokes, teasing, and sarcasm among friends that may seem like fun but are actually perceived as bullying and hurtful to the peers.”

Bullying and harassment can also happen in spaces from private chats to public social media platforms.

"These things can start in a private chat. But it can escalate to the point that it happens openly on social media, like what you see with bashing or with cancel culture," said Kimberly Kaye Mata of the DLSU Department of Psychology.

‘Collective response’

Prof. Maria Caridad Taroja said that “responding to the challenge of social media bullying and harassment cannot just be done by the Filipino youth alone.”

“Alongside these young people, there also needs to be collective responses from social media platforms and local communities,” she added.

The team will be launching a series of online videos for the youth, along with downloadable posters for schools and guardians to address cyberbullying by involving the community.

The materials will be available in English, Tagalog, Hiligaynon, and Bisaya, and will be launched on July 8 as part of the DLSU 2022 Research Congress.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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