The breathtaking tranquility of a town where it seems that "not a leaf moves" when the afternoon falls suddenly vanished, just over 20 days ago. The rumor began to run from mouth to mouth. Natural adolescents and young people from the town of Maniabon, near the city of Puerto Padre (Las Tunas), were victims of threats, verbal aggressions and insults through the social network Facebook, from a fake profile called «Maniabon Peres».
Allusions to their sexual preferences, teasing, blackmail and even "proposals" for monetary retribution in exchange for gossip, were published through that account in which details (true and false) about the privacy of the victims were socialized. Many of them were not aware that they were being cyber-harassed or cyberbullying.
THE MANIABON CASE
«They did not affect me in particular, but my people did. They have caused divorces, lawsuits, jokes, insults to homosexuals. There are many terrified of being the following, ”said a professor of SBasic school that asked us to "help anonymously, because I'm afraid."
Given these facts, Rebel Youth contacted some affected, in order to clarify what happened. Sahily Ojeda is the mother of one of the 18-year-old boys, a victim of cyberbullying. He says that when his son showed him what they had published, he discovered that she had also sent a friend request.
«Every day they published something about local youth. I often made fun of my son because he is gay and has had a stable partner for two years. Some time ago, he was treated for severe depression and I will not allow him to fall back into depression because of some homophobes, ”said the mother.
Although Eylen Rodriguez resides in Canada, these events came very closely, as they are related to family and friends. This was told by the 18-year-old girl. «They published about my mother's partner, trying to start problems between them. They wrote him to put a GPS because he was on bad roads. They also offended my friends with homophobic words and made fun of the physique of one of my friends. There is almost a fight, because a man confronted a young man that people suspected.
Maida Silva, a teacher at Martires de Maniabon High School, says that when they opened that account, many of her students began to worry. «They were afraid that they would publish about their private life. They wondered: who will they speak badly today?
«Several teachers discussed the topic in the classrooms to explain what the bullying and how they can defend themselves. Since then, several parents do not allow their children to connect to the Internet, as this was causing fear and anxiety in many teenagers, ”says the educator.
Given these facts, a network of friendships on line it was activated since the last days of October in frank denunciation against the activities of the alleged user Maniabon Peres, until Facebook blocked the account on the 27th of that month. However, the consequences continued to beat among the inhabitants of Maniabon.
EVERYTHING: HOW TO REACT?
The cyberbullying or cyberbullying It is not new in the world, not even in our country, although it is not common for people to openly discuss the issue. Also known as online harassment, electronic harassment or social cruelty online, this refers to all acts of language produced by individuals or groups that use digital technologies, which are published massively or repeatedly on public or private communication channels. Its purpose is to damage the psychology, the social prestige of another person or group.
It includes insults, spreading rumors, posting embarrassing images, teasing about race, religion, someone's ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Not a few scientific investigations associated with the topic in the world identify, among the effects experienced by the victims, anxiety, the decrease in school performance and the level of self-esteem, as well as signs of severe depression or even suicidal ideation.
Therefore, it is not surprising that some respondents used terms such as panic, anger, hostility and anger to summarize their feelings and reactions.
One of the victims who most strongly asked us for anonymity, said: «I felt helpless and that is why I cried so much the night I found out, because not only did they hurt me, but the people I love. The publication of so many barbarities by a person who does not even have the courage to show his face, mortifies and hurts.
Given these and other reactions associated with the insecurity and disorientation experienced by the victims, we talked with Dr. Roxanne Castellanos Cabrera, Professor at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Havana, who suggests to those affected that the first thing is to treat to function as little as possible as victims, so that this damage intentionally directed at them is not amplified by the confrontation of the people themselves.
«That is, they must understand that someone has wanted to harm them and, in that sense, try to avoid repercussions. As human beings, we have support networks (family, friends …) that must be activated for and not against. We have to deal with these facts in a healthy way, with the idea that we cannot serve as bait, ”he said.
DOES THE LAW PROTECT US?
The majority of victims reported feeling unprotected from the legal point of view. However, Decree-Law No. 370 on the Computerization of the Company in Cuba, of July 4, 2019, makes clear, in Article 68, Chapter I, Title VII, on Contraventions and sanctions associated with the Technologies of the Information and Communication (ICT) and administrative resources for its challenge, which «disseminate through public networks of data transmission, information contrary to the social interest, morals, good customs and integrity of people», is considered a violation, provided they do not constitute crimes. That means that a fine of three thousand CUP will be imposed on the natural person who contravenes the provisions.
But when that use of the networks injures the honor of another person, one may face a criminal figure, as explained by Otto Eduardo Molina Rodriguez, president of the Criminal Chamber of the People's Supreme Court.
The magistrate assured that “the people of Maniabon who have suffered the insults are not unprotected, because the Constitution of the Republic establishes, in several of his articles (45, 46, 47 and 48), that people have the right to physical and moral integrity, freedom, justice, security, peace »; and that we are respected "personal and family intimacy, their own image and voice, their honor and personal identity." That is, no one can attack our privacy.
«Likewise, the Penal Code it establishes the possibility that they can be judged for these behaviors in relation to the magnitude and type, for the crimes of defamation, insult and slander, ”he said.
Molina Rodriguez suggests that if the person understands that they are affecting his honor, he can go to a law firm so that a lawyer can advise him on the behavior he must follow. Also, another alternative for victims is to go to the Municipal Prosecutor's Office, responsible for ensuring compliance with the law.
LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
What happened in Maniabon shows how vulnerable we are all to suffer cyberbullying through social networks or other channels in the digital world. Although this case was more related to sexuality and intimacy, the cyberbullying It can be oriented towards professions, races, physical aspects …
Without pretending to be alarmists, nobody is exempt from being the object of evil hidden behind a screen. The antidote is the information about our rights, the care with the interaction in the networks with strangers and the intelligent and denouncing attitude that every case of harassment deserves. These can be feasible ways to face faceless stalking.