The Bois Locker Room left a mammoth impact on social media after the chat group was busted for glorifying rape, sharing pictures of underage girls, objectifying and sexualising them. The chat group however is just a fragment of the cyber crimes that take place every second. In Mumbai itself, 50 to 60 cases are reported on a daily basis.
With the unprecedented growth of social media accounts, online validation, cyber bullying, harassment and more, there has been a rising concern for mental health, of those victimised on these platforms. We spoke to experts on how a situation like the bois locker room can be curtailed to some extent, legally and mentally.
Cyber crime and mental health
Clinical Psychologist Dr Priyanka Kartari provided her expertise on how a crime like Bois Locker Room affects its victims emotionally and mentally. She states. “People don’t know that they have been a victim even when they’re in that situation. The way society has conditioned boys and girls to just act normal and consider it as an acceptable behaviour. It’s uncomfortable it’s confrontational, they don’t realise that there’s danger. They realise it much later on in life. Some may not have the courage to speak up because it means they’re putting themselves out there and women mostly internalise blame and think of it as being their fault.”
Many a times, parents do not have the faintest idea that their child is a victim of cyber bullying or is being subjected to hate and abuse on social media. Kartari weighs in on how parents can create a safety bubble by just communicating with an open mind. “For parents to understand a situation like this is very scary. It’s like a whole other world your child is a part of and you have no clue. Their anxiety and fear is understandable. I would recommend them to start having conversations with their children when they’re much younger (around 4-6 years old) about what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. Teach them that if it doesn’t feel right in your body, if it’s a wrong feeling, act on it and walk away from that situation”, she said.
She added, “A lot of times kids who have been victimised on social media are scared to tell their parents because either they were not allowed to be on these platforms or that they may reprimand thinking their kid participated in it. Folks need to be accepting of what their child has to say, because only they build a safe space for their kid.”
Being defamed on social media
A day after the Bois Locker Room was exposed, a class 12 boy from Gurugram committed suicide after a girl accused him of allegedly molesting her two years ago. This accounts for another layer of cyber crime, where a person is driven to take an extreme step out of shame, and social media trial.
Leading psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr. Anjali Chhabria states that it’s extremely difficult to spot if your child has any problem, especially with teenagers who are extremely secretive. One needs to be emotionally connected with their kid to be aware what is happening in their life. The obvious signs are if your child is way too quiet, has mood changes, doesn’t want to talk or disturbed sleep cycle, or is trying to be very ‘cool’.
While being named on social media can put one in a sticky situation, Chhabria adds that “Talk to someone you trust, whether you have made or not made a mistake, or you were just a part of the mob. If you seek help you can solve even the biggest problems.”
Mentality behind Bois Locker Room
Dr Priyanka opines on what went behind the forming and functioning of such group on social media. She says, “For these boys to think it was okay to do that has to do with their upbringing. It has to do with an environment in which they’re growing up. These are not excuses for what they’ve done but it is the root of the problem. They have access to unhealthy relationships and have seen their fathers or uncles or grandfathers objectifying women at home, and they’re just carrying that forward.”
Meanwhile Dr Anjali adds, “There is one leader who starts it, and then there are followers. If you’re a part of a group and if you don’t draw the line, you will be in trouble. There are some with high self esteem who will say they don’t want to get in something wrong. But others will follow a herd mentality.”
Cybercop at your rescue
Shubham Singh, popularly known as ‘Cybercop’ has been working with the Mumbai Police to solve complex cases and nab the perpetrators. He also manages a portal, called Cyber World Academy, to help with cyber crimes, free of cost.
Singh, an IIT Bombay alumnus has been working actively on the Bois Locker Room case, shared what you can do if facing a similar situation. To begin with, he stated that no matter how big or small the crime, one can lodge complaint on cybercrime.gov.in or at their nearest police station.
Since most of the victims fall far fake accounts and find no connection or means to trace it, reporting the same can help the authorities determine the intention of creating the account, and whatever harm the account holder causes by posting or sharing, it will be considered as defamatory, and tried under the law.
Shubham added that if one has decided to report, but didn’t take screenshots, or the perpetrators account has been deleted, the cyber crime unit can still retrieve all the necessary information and use it as evidence. He also asserted that screenshots shared online shouldn’t be believed completely until a solid proof has been found, since they can be tampered before presenting on social media.
The Bois Locker Room has caused a severe wound to those who were victimised on the chat group. Every person at some point has faced a similar situation at least once, and therefore highlighting the intensity of this crime has initiated a conversation. The battle has just begun, and our real superheroes have fastened their seatbelts to provide help at lightning speed. Speak up, speak now.