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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bill filed to curb cyberbullying among kids, fight hate speech online

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A bill filed in the House of Representatives proposes to address cyberbullying among children.

House Bill 9771 or the Anti-Cyberbullying Against Children Act, authored by Rep. Marissa Magsino of the OFW party-list group, recognizes “the psychological and emotional toll it inflicts on children who are much vulnerable to these attacks and to their destructive effects.”

Magsino, a member of the House committee on welfare of children, underscored the necessity of comprehensive legislation to counter hate speech and protect children online.

The detrimental effects of cyberbullying can lead to anxiety, fear, depression, low self-esteem, behavioral issues, and academic struggles, she noted.

“Bullying, in general, can have physical and psychological effects on our children. However, cyberbullying may be particularly damaging because unlike traditional bullying — which is often limited to schools and known bullies — cyberbullying can occur at any time and be perpetrated by anonymous sources,” the lawmaker said.

“This makes it more relentless, and often more ruthless, as well as difficult to complain about, especially for children,” added Magsino.

Countering cyberbullying is an advocacy of Rep. Magsino as Ambassador of the Sunfull Foundation, a non-governmental organization founded in 2007 in South Korea.

The foundation started the Sunfull Internet Peace Movement, which works to counter cyberbullying, hate speech, and human rights violations on the Internet.

Sunfull Foundation also appointed OFW Party List Secretary General Princess Adriano as Sunfull Ambassador for Social Media, in recognition of her crucial role as one of the popular “influencers” to the Filipino youth.

“It is imperative for the government to intensify its commitment to online safety and to protect Filipino children against cyberbullying. The youth now belong to a digital generation; the world is literally at their fingertips. But this digital world has become difficult to navigate because of hate speech and cyberbullying” Magsino said.

While existing legislation addresses aspects of bullying (Republic Act 10627, ‘Anti-Bullying Act of 2013’) and cybercrime (Republic Act No. 10175, ‘Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012’), the proposed bill seeks to specifically target cyberbullying against children.

The bill outlines punishable acts, including spreading lies, sharing harmful content, slanderous statements, impersonation, and other acts causing damage to a child’s psychological well-being.

Penalties for violations include imprisonment or fines, determined by the discretion of the court, with enforcement provisions mirroring the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012.

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