MXit bullies threaten school children

2010-10-17 23:02

Secunda - The gruesome chain letters spread on MXit among young children are probably the handiwork of cyber bullies.

This is the opinion of Dr Elsie Calitz, a psychologist from Centurion.

She says cyber bullying is a common phenomenon, but parents often only hear about such incidents once their own child has already been a victim.

In the latest incident, a number of primary school pupils from Secunda had sleepless nights last week, after receiving a chain letter about a dead teddy bear with "eyes of blood". The receiver of the message is threatened with death, should they fail to pass on the message to others.

The teddy bear message is actually a variation on another threatening chain letter, in which a certain "Jane" says she is 7 years old, has red eyes and no nose or ears, because she is actually dead.

If the receiver was to break the chain, reads the message, Jane (who later also introduces herself as Bloody Mary) will murder the receiver at midnight.

A primary school principal from Secunda, Neels van Niekerk, said on Sunday the teddy bear chain letter spread like a wildfire, and he would speak to his pupils about the matter this week.

Handiwork of bullies

According to Calitz, such messages are usually the handiwork of bullies - girl bullies in particular.

"They really are out there, and they really are mean. Girls like this enjoy targeting sensitive or naive girls in cyberspace.

"It also much easier to get away with the bullying (on MXit)."

A study Calitz conducted a few years ago indicated that such bullying techniques are used by girls in particular.

"Most of them are about 14 or 15 years old and have been learning to be mean since nursery school. The other children also usually know who these girls are."

Calitz encouraged parents to speak to their children about these letters.