Cyberbullying: Psychology of Online Offenders and the Law

Cyberbullying: Psychology of Online Offenders and the Law

India has experienced substantial advancements in various industries, including the cyber world, during the past two decades. These advancements may be attributed to India’s adoption of state-of-the-art technologies and high-speed internet. However, this growth has also led to a significant increase in the occurrence of cyber-crimes in India.

Cyberbullying is a form of misconduct that inflicts long-lasting psychological distress on the individual who is the subject of the harassment. Many top law colleges in Maharashtra keep a careful eye on their students to spot cases of cyberbullying and deal with them promptly within the legal framework. Sometimes, the repercussions of such cyber-crimes might be so severe that they may drive the victim to consider suicide. Let us take a look into what cyberbullying entails and the legal provisions of dealing with the same:

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to the intentional act of bullying/to inflict harm that occurs via the utilisation of digital technologies. It can appear on several digital platforms, such as social media, chat systems, and mobile phones (e.g., harassment through text messages). It is a recurring action that involves intentionally trying to intimidate, provoke, or humiliate certain individuals. Cyberbullying involves activities like disseminating false information or sharing demeaning images or videos of a person on social media platforms.

Additionally, it encompasses the act of transmitting harmful, derogatory, or menacing texts, photographs, or videos via messaging platforms. Participating in impersonation and disseminating harmful content to others, either by assuming their identity or utilising counterfeit accounts. Prominent social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others serve as key conduits for the prevalence of cyberbullying.

Individuals who are subjected to cyberbullying may experience feelings of humiliation, anxiety, and insecurity as a result of the adverse judgments and comments aimed at them. These experiences might result in emotions of isolation, being inundated, and distancing oneself from close ones, as well as indulging in negative thoughts and self-criticism. Continuing or prolonging negative emotions and thoughts can have a detrimental impact on the psychological well-being and overall state of health.

What Drives Individuals to Commit Cyberbullying?

Diverse variables can contribute to an individual’s involvement in cyberbullying. Psychiatric disorders or Cyber bullies may have mental health conditions that are either associated with their bullying behaviour or exacerbate it. Instances pertain to the occurrence of difficulties related to behavioural problems, such as aggression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and substance abuse. Sometimes, victims of cyberbullying may become bullies themselves in cyberspace. Individuals may seek to regain a sense of control or express their anger after experiencing a violation in which they were unable to retaliate against the initial offender.

Cyberbullying can arise between individuals who were formerly friends or love partners due to problems within the friendship or the deterioration of the relationship. This form of cyberbullying can be perceived as motivated by wrath, envy, or a need for retaliation or consequences of disagreements or breakups.

Some people participate in cyberbullying because they are experiencing boredom or delving into a new virtual identity. Individuals who encounter social isolation or feelings of loneliness can also be categorised as cyber bullies. When individuals see that they are being ignored or disregarded by others, they may opt to manifest their dissatisfaction as a means to get attention and alleviate their distress, or release their anger at society.

Attributes of Victims of Cyberbullying

Cyberbully Victims frequently have recurring behaviours, indicating common characteristics among them. The traits are:

  • Adolescents and young adults are the most common targets.
  • Women are more susceptible to being targeted in terms of the dissemination of false information and the reception of explicit images.
  • Individuals who describe themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are more susceptible to frequent victimisation.
  • Individuals that exhibit timidity, social incompetence, or difficulty in assimilating may be more susceptible to maltreatment.
  • People with lower socioeconomic level are more vulnerable to victimisation.
  • People who frequently use the internet are more susceptible to cyberbullying.
Legal Provisions

The absence of targeted legislation to address cyberbullying is genuinely noteworthy in India. However, the 2013 Amendment to the Act introduced cyber stalking as a legal offense, whereas cyberbullying has not yet been included. However, Chapter XI of the Act includes specific provisions. These provisions can be used to deal with the perpetrators of cyberbullying. The sections are:

Section 66 (A) pertains to the penalty for conveying disagreeable, disparaging, offensive, or cruel words or content through the internet on social media platforms, web chat rooms, or any other online platforms.

Section 66 (D) of the Act pertains to the punishment for engaging in fraudulent activities by impersonating someone else using a computer resource.

Section 66 (E) pertains to the penalty for violating privacy using electronic means, such as the illegal use of someone’s photos or the sharing of their personal information. Engaging in these behaviours is classified as cyberbullying and can lead to a penalty of up to 3 lakh rupees or a maximum prison sentence of 3 years as per this regulation.

Section 67 of the act deals with the consequences of disseminating, sending, or distributing lewd, vulgar, or inappropriate content through cyberspace. Offenders may face a fine of up to 10 lakh rupees or a maximum imprisonment of 5 years.


Cyberbullying affects all facets of society. Perpetrators have the ability to engage in cyberbullying while maintaining total anonymity. Furthermore, online bullying can be conducted in a non-confrontational manner, especially when the perpetrator remains anonymous. This indicates that a cyberbully has a tendency to quickly surf the Internet, leaving derogatory comments without waiting to hear the responses.

Popularity and physical dominance are unnecessary. Physical strength or social standing is unnecessary. This indicates that those who possess the inclination to engage in bullying conduct can readily commit on the Internet, irrespective of their social standing in the physical realm. There are no obstacles preventing an individual from entering or participating. Any individual with access to the Internet can begin.

Engaging in proactive actions such as implementing initiatives, socio-legal awareness, enacting legislation, implementing administrative measures at educational institutions, and doing other attempts to identify and eradicate cyberbullying create a comprehensive framework for addressing this issue.

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