Have You Been Cyber-Bullied? You May Get Insurance to Help You.

When insurance marketer Frank Kasimov, of BusinessInsuranceQuotes.com teamed up with brokers and insurance agents to discover which plans help customers the most, one answer topped them all: shield them from cyberbullying.

A “family plan” on offer protects against personal emergencies such as stalking, car theft, road rage and kidnapping. The company now expands its plan by including protection against cyberbullying for both adult and minor family members.

Cyber Bullying is Rampant

This goes to show the extent this online phenomenon has reached in the era of Twitter fighting and smartphone obsession. It has even started to be recognized by insurance agencies.

As the American Humane Association, an organization that advocates for children and animal rights, describes it, cyberbullying is defined as the action of threatening, harassing or intimidating individuals with the purpose of causing “willful and repeated harm,” through the use of electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets or computers.

The immense number of mobile devices in use, many of which belong to people of young age, renders the phenomenon all too frequent. According to a survey conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC), approximately 25 percent of all students have suffered from cyberbullying, whereas sixteen percent confess to have committed it.

A survey done by CRC on a single middle school in the Midwest revealed that almost half of all students were on Facebook or Instagram, more than sixty percent owned a cell phone and almost everyone was going online. What’s more, cyberbullying seems to be more of a girl thing; young girls either suffer from it or impose it to their peers more often than boys.

According to psychotherapists, all kinds of such abuse, be it cyber- or physical bullying, have the same results: low self-confidence, depression and, in extreme cases, suicide. They may even transform victims into hunters. It’s the reason behind the generalized anti-bullying programming that all school districts have employed, whereas many health institutions have specialized units available to aid when needed.

However, cyberbullying tops the old-fashioned physical abuse in terms of impact. “Although people tend to be as cruel as they’ve always been, modern technology allows for deeper wounds,” said Adam Fridman, founder of Mabbly, a digital branding firm in Chicago.

As Fridman put it, in the old days a bad rumor could circulate in class written on a piece of paper but would end there. Nowadays, the same rumor can find its way on social media, exposing its victim [or a business] to thousands of people who will exponentially magnify it.

Several insurance plans also cover adults who have been under cyber-fire, something that happens, according to Kasimov, following a divorce, where both affected parties can get a hold on the other member’s electronic gear.

As is the usual procedure with accident policies, the insurance only comes into effect after the damage has been done, with a maximum amount of $60 thousand. Nonetheless, it can compensate for false arrest, wrongful termination, mental health care, off time from work and temporary relocation.

The applicant must prove, naturally, that damage was inflicted; if a child is involved, there should be professional acknowledgement of harm.

Tracking Down the Cyber-Assailant

Compensation can also be invested towards tracking down the cyber-assailant through the involvement of forensic cyber security experts, and also towards damage control of the inflicted damage, through a professionally organized PR campaign. If needed, resources can be suggested by an agent.

The increasing incidence of the phenomenon is acknowledged by both Kasimov, who says that the number of lawsuits concerning cyber-abusers and their targets has been on the rise, and the FBI who reveal that their Internet Crime Complaint Center receives more cyberbullying complaints.

Nonetheless, the authorities don’t escalate these cases to criminal status, unless they result in suicide. But even when they do, punishment is not hard.

The 2010 suicide of Phoebe Prince resulted in six teenagers being prosecuted, but their young age protected them; they only received a suspended sentence plus community service. Dharun Ravi, a former student of Rutgers University, only served 20 days in prison after sharing a private video on Twitter of his gay roommate.

cyber bully
cyber bullying is rampant
Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.