This article will discuss why social media should be banned for under 18’s, and not included as part of schools curriculum.
As the UK begins to introduce SATS for 11 year olds and plans for banning knives are announced, it is clear we need to look at the reality of the dangers to our children.
Social media, like knives, are the fastest growing forms of crime in the UK and there are few better places to study the changing face of the web than this free online article from the UK government’s Cyber Safety Online Safety Advisory Board.
Gangs who carry out crimes, including violence, rape, acid attacks and murders, are now using the internet as a place to ‘follow orders’, trade knives, drug lords sell the latest illegal substances and criminal masterminds advertise crack cocaine on Instagram.
The recent gang rape and murder of eight year old victim Sheru, in New Delhi has recently caused outrage on social media with almost a million people joining the campaign in support of Sheru’s mother, and to demand that Sheru’s attackers are brought to justice.
Rape is a violent crime that comes in many forms, and rape isn’t confined to countries with a specific cultural stereotype of sexual violence
Rape has been happening for millennia and whether the victim is a child or a young woman, it is a sexual violation that impacts the person both physically and emotionally.
When you are raped you are a survivor, you find yourself trying to make sense of what happened and cope with what is happening to your body and mind.
What is particularly shocking about the Sheru’s case is that this young child was able to identify her attackers, that’s something most adult rape victims are unable to do.
There was little understanding of the boundaries of social behaviour in the impoverished neighbourhood of Gariahat where Sheru lived, so while young Sheru was safe from the kind of dangerous adult groups who stalk and sexually attack women, she was in danger of being raped by a gang.
Unfortunately the fact that Sheru and her friends knew how to fight back was not enough to save her life.
The Police force is understaffed, underfunded and lacks the resources to tackle such crime, so while they do their best to track down her killers, she will never be able to return to her home and play with her friends again.
Sheru’s brutal rape and murder, whilst not indicative of all violence in poor urban areas, does send a clear message that if there is violence and sexual assault, society will not help victims or bring rapists to justice.
In fact, a common mantra in the media to ‘make Delhi safe for women’ will have zero effect, it may even make it more dangerous for women.
It is important that as a society we recognise and address these underlying factors, which place some sections of our society at a much higher risk of sexual assault than others
The problem we have in the UK is that we have developed a globalisation that has removed the inherent hierarchical structures of the ethnic and cultural groups in society.
Before social media we had a series of familiar cultural and social institutions that acted as a basis for mutual understanding, such as education and law enforcement that set boundaries and regulated the interaction of individuals and groups.
In a society like the UK we know that what you do in your own home is your own business, but in today’s globalised world that security is not universal.
Your friends and neighbours who live thousands of miles away can turn up on your doorstep and without any warning, rape you or your family. Similarly, the way a family behaves at a party in their own home can be completely different to the way the family behave when they are at a family dinner.
Social media poses a unique challenge to those of us that work to combat violent crime
When young Sheru tried to protect herself by fighting back she was attacked by her attackers, and her innocence and sense of right and wrong were ignored in favour of the revenge of the mob, a phenomenon referred to as gang-rape culture.
We have to reject this as it strips a person of their identity, she becomes someone else’s property, a commodity for a number of people to exploit.
We live in a world where all of our information is anonymous and we cannot identify perpetrators. It is extremely difficult to secure and protect the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Often the most dangerous perpetrators are those who are most confident and overtly assertive as they can inflict the most damage.
Gang rape is not an exotic Indian, African or South American experience. It happens in most cultures and it is happening now in communities across the UK and beyond.
It needs to stop, not just in India but everywhere.