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cyberbullying
The Telescope

CYBER BULLYING NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

There is an epidemic in our culture and it is disheartening. Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. It hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe that has engulfed our generation.

Cyber bullying is a relatively new yet potentially harmful phenomenon in which people use technology such as computers or mobile phones to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassle their peers and today, it is spinning out of control.

Moreover, in this unbridled territory of social media there have been few consequences fcyberbullyingor cyber bullies’ actions and little punishment for their crimes whereas the dangers posed by cyber bullying are not in the breadth of its perpetrators and victims, but rather in the depth of damage that online aggression causes or can possibly cause. According to a recent report, Kenyans mostly those who are active on social media are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyber bullying, mostly addressed to women.

In a world of catastrophic headlines and sensational sound bites, the startling exposure reveals that nearly 57 per cent or three people out of five use social media to get help, emotional support or practical advice for their real life problems thus exposing themselves to cyber bullying. Shockingly, most cyber bullying incidents in the country go on unabated.

Cyber bullying is a real problem that we are facing and it is about time the government enacts policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users our institutions and societies.

Tragic accounts of youth and even adults in places of influence in government who have been tormented through social media, emails, texts or instant messages are only a click away and have the capability of producing pages of results.

It is about time the government enacted policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users. There is a great deal of power in the internet but its use calls for wisdom, which most cyber bullies lack.

It is the government’s job to start bridging that gap. Times are also changing, requiring government to be above the tech-savvy lot that can easily over turn things through cyber space, by educating us, encouraging vigilance as good citizens, and creating a system of accountability and consequences.

We also have to begin giving youn2013-02-25-11.52.31g people, especially teens, the tools that will help empower them and not let bullies take away their self-esteem.

Cyber bullying is serious and we need to treat it as such. The fact is, this sort of social behaviour by others is unconscionable.

There are cyber-mobs with gang-like mentalities that need to be clamped down. Now, more than ever, we are living in a culture of digital cruelty and it is not only with our youth it trickles down from the top, from reckless adults that should know better.

However, I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. Instead of using the Internet to hurt someone, use it to empower people and make others feel good about themselves. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep scrolling.

Life is short. Spend your time here wisely and be kind to people.

This article was published on People Weekend on 24-25, October 2015

Photo/Courtesy
The Telescope

LET US BE PATRIOTIC AS WE HANDLE TEACHERS STRIKE

Patriotism, or if you like national loyalty, is the love and devotion to ones country. This sentiment is closely related to nationalism where a group of individuals identify themselves with the nation based on political ideology, common cultural characteristics or even common religion or race.

But where do we draw the line between patriotism and nationalism? A clear line cannot be drawn but there is a positive and destructive side to both patriotism and nationalism.

The destructive force kicks in when one group of nationalists try to dominate others and refuses any form of criticism or elucidation. Patriotism becomes a problem when it is blind to the problems it causes the nation.

Blind patriotism is fanatical. It is also called chauvinism and can never lead to fascism.

As Mark Twain put it, “The true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it”.

Today, Kenya confronts several challenges but the teachers strike still tops the chart. Seemingly, the conversation has evoked some passionate and heated debates over the past few weeks but like so many second-order priorities the Government risks letting the matter overshadow the real business of running an economy at its all tSRCchairime peak at the moment.

Truth is that the teachers issue runs deeper than what meets the eye.It’s also plain to see that at this point even the teachers representatives have lost focus of what is important. Rather than seeking a solution that will see teachers resume back to their duties news bulletins have over the recent past been flawed with mortifying threats between the Cabinet Secretary of Education, Teachers Unions representatives, Salaries and Remuneration chair among other quarters.

This stuff is just embarrassing and such destruction may drive popularity ratings among Kenyans for those involved but it’s in bad taste and diminishes the Kenyan brand- much to the delight of those stirring the pot but they do not advance the vital national discussion about the problem on the ground.

Stakeholders must ultimately unite around an answer that recognizes the gravity of the circumstances surrounding the strike and the urgency of implementing corrective measures. Teachers back at home want to hear solutions on the issues not the internal strife marred with brazen mudslinging and hate advertisements.

Also there is no great mystery here, we all witnessed in utter dismay this week when the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy-Cord took on the teachers issue on a public stage in their breathtaking contrast of a solution finding mission that backfired badly on them.

It’s not lost to many that CORD is manufacturing an outrage in part to undermine the Government, in part because they hope to tarnish President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name and in part, because we are quickly approachiPresident Uhuru Kenyattang the next elections and this is an opportunity to rile up its base for fundraising purposes.

However that aside good leadership means dealing with second order issues quickly and efficiently and not allowing them to ferment and dominate the political discourse for days or weeks on end while matters that actually make a tangible difference to our living are allowed to take a back seat.

For the government, the country borders between the boundary of decency and ridiculousness a solution is needed, now.

This article was published on the People Weekend on September 26-27,2015

Suicide
The Telescope

SUICIDE IS A GLOBAL CALAMITY THAT CALLS FOR OUR ATTENTION

On September 10, the world commemorated World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). The event, usually organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), is generally meant to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Death. We don’t like to discuss it in Kenya. Suicide, even less but I feel compelled to write about a subject deemed taboo or emasculating for people to talk about.

I say that primarily because it is about time attention is shed on the subject. Suicide is a growing problem worldwide. The rate has steadily increased over the past ten years and more people are committing suicide every other day. In fact, of the major leading causes of death globally, suicide is the only one steadily increasing in its rate.

Yet, it is still not discussed. This is evident when the death of a relative as a result of suicide is talked about in hushed tones. Generally, the acknowledgement of suicide has always been shadowed with much complexity. Maybe it is because it remains extraordinarily painful to know that someone you love took his or her own life. Feelings of guilt, sadness and anger persist long after the death.

There remains a great deal of shame associated with suicide. But it is vital to work to destigmatise suicide so that suicidal individuals can feel more comfortable to reach out for help and so that families and friends who have lost someone to suicide do not have to endure the pain of the death alone braving the emotional rimagesoller coaster.

“It is also imperative that as a country, we invest in enriching researching on the causes and preventive measures of suicidal tendencies”

It is also important to remember that in life we can have everything we have ever wanted — success, love, even happiness. But people who struggle with depression, more often than not, they are in a battle to keep their head up. Because the struggle is not at their jobs, the struggle is not with their friends or their families.

The struggle is inside them and it just does not go away without a little grit. Also, religious conviction and participation in religious activities can also assist in curbing or preventing poor mental health that includes depression.

Let us resolve in unison to support family members or friends going through depression. Let us decide to cause all that any of us can do, is keep striving to be that better person. The me that feels the weight of my own thoughts but keeps going anyway, keeps pushing my whole self towards being a better person.

No matter how long that struggle takes, if we can devote our lives to striving to be better people it is never going to be a wasted life. For anyone going through depression please keep fighting and seek support from family and friends. Life can get better if only you keep pushing a little longer.

It is also imperative that as a country, resources are invested in researching causes and preventive measures of suicide, especially rampant among citizens in their productive age.

This article was published on People Weekend on September 19-20, 2015