This insurance company is giving women cyberbullying cover as SA's current trolling crisis worsens

Cyberbullying is a serious problem in South Africa
Cyberbullying is a serious problem in South Africa

According to News24, it's alleged that a young girl was being bullied on Whatsapp by a group of girls who were "teasing" her after other girls were threatening to send compromising pictures of her around the school.

The bullying had apparently been going on for a few weeks before the girl who has not been named decided to end her life.

The pupil reported the bullying to her life sciences teacher after school on Thursday last week, but the alleged bully had already left school. The next day she was absent and that's when the suicide occurred, Timeslive reported.

READ MORE: Woman recounts cyber bullying nightmare: ‘They posted my picture on Facebook and wrote nasty things’

In another recent case of cyber bullying, Scandal actress Nomvelo Makhanya, who is also a mental health activist, recently took to Instagram Live to address the people who had been making fun of her "big head"

In the video, the young actress can be heard pleading with her fans to respect her craft and not make her head the main subject of their conversation after she'd "put in so much work" in her storyline for the TV series Scandal.

"It is so hard because I literally put in so much work. I put in so much work for that story. But now it seems that my head is overlooking my work.

You guys are not focused on my craft. You guys are more focused on my physicality and my head. I literally work so hard, but you know..." she said teary eyed into the camera. Watch the clip below.

According to a survey conducted in 28 different countries by Ipsos Global Advisor in 2018, SA has the "highest rate of cyber bullying with a quarter of South African parents reporting that their children had been cyber bullied".

READ MORE: Have we become obsessed with a culture of online shaming?

Now, 1st for Women also found that out of 4 000 parents, 64% believed that their children are at risk of being bullied online. And while cyber bullying tends to be a lot harsher and detrimental for children, adults too often become the victim of toxic comments made by people who hide behind social media.

Rianette Leibowitz, an expert on cyber bullying and founder of SaveTNet Cyber Safety NPC, concurs: "Besides the alarming statistics, cyber bullying has been the cause of many young people going as far as taking their own lives with the impact causing a far-reaching ripple effect.”

In a JacarandaFM article, Megan Harrington-Johnson, child and family lawyer, explains to Martin Bester the legalities behind cyber bullying. She explains that children are criminally liable from the age of fourteen and that depending on the nature of the crime, children as young as ten can be criminally charged.

However this is only if it was found beyond reasonable doubt, that the child had criminal capacity.

"Getting involved in any sort of physical altercation or situation with physical violence can actually result in criminal charges against a child. Children are criminally liable automatically from the age of fourteen.

READ MORE: Cyber violence is on the rise

The serious nature of cyber bullying and the threat it poses toward the mental health of children and young people alike prompted insurance company 1st for Women to launch the first of its kind, comprehensive cover for cyber bullying.

“The costs of addressing cyber bullying can be astronomical with lawyers charging around R3 000 an hour for consultations alone. Also, in many instances, legal intervention is needed to put a stop to the bullying and bring the perpetrators to justice,” says Casey Rousseau from 1st for Women.

The cost of 1st for Women's cyber bullying insurance cover is R99 per month which covers the policyholder for unlimited and 24/7 telephonic legal advice, the policy holder will also receive unlimited mediation by a legal representative.

Litigation is covered up to R55 000, which is the amount equivalent to the hours the legal representative uses for court proceedings.

In addition to protecting policyholders and their household members against cyber bullying, 1st for Women Cyber Insurance also provides additional benefits, such as cover against cyber theft, computer and home systems attack, and cyber liability claims. 

The aim of this insurance policy by 1st for Women according to Casey, is "to help combat cyber bullying here in SA".

When people realise just how serious it the problem has become, and that there are now legal implications involved, it will definitely contribute to less cyber crimes.

READ MORE: One of SA's youngest female cardiologists who was bullied about her revealing outfit has laid a charge of crimen injuria

And with the large numbers of people falling victim to cyber bullying daily here in South Africa, we can see why getting insurance might just be both a need and a means to an end of people using social media to attack and belittle others.

“Cyber bullying is a crime – a hate crime that sees no sign of abating due to its ease. Bullies can hide behind the screen or a cellphone, and it can be completely anonymous.  Putting the full might of the law behind the victims, and eradicating the financial burden, will no doubt go a long way to putting a stop to it completely,” says Rousseau.

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