Bullying | by SMS
Introduction to bullying by SMS
A report by Whitted and Dupper titled ‘How Bullying Effects Learning’ in 2005 found that high-level forms of violence such as assault and murder usually receive most media attention, but lower-level forms of violence such as bullying, has only in recent years started to be addressed by researchers, educators, parents and legislators. Add to this mix those companies caught up in the maelstrom of bullying, ISP’s, online social communities and mobile operators.
Bullying is classified into six categories: school bullying, workplace bullying, cyber bullying, political bullying, military bullying and hazing. This discussion document will address the issue of bullying by text which is classed as a sub section of cyber bullying and as a result is not receiving the attention it warrants. Bullying by SMS it is now a problem of such concern that most educational departments around the world have released guidelines for schools, community groups and parents on how to combat and deal with the threat posed by this virulent form of bullying. It is time for bullying by SMS to be classed as a new bullying category as there is an entirely new approach and series of preventative measures required to halt its spread across large sections of teenage society.
What are the solutions?
Greater policing of the school environment, as evidenced in Norway where additional resources are hired ‘to police’ the playgrounds and common areas, will avert some of the problem but outside the school the bullying is liable to continue. Assigning resources that are expensive to deploy in the school environment is not the answer, it only addresses part of the problem.
- Arguing for parental control to monitor and regulate usage is a non runner as it is proven that teens with mobiles find parental control anathema to their freedom and individuality.
- Empowering the victim to utilise a range of services that block, store and report the abusive messages to a regulated third party is the key. Depending on specific societal and cultural issues there are many ways to configure a reporting system but for the purposes of this discussion document one of the configurations could run as follows:
o Once an abusive message is received the victim can add this number to a black list and/or,
o Using a short code, have the message forwarded to a third party,
o That will contact the mobile originating handset and warn them that they have been reported and legal proceedings will be forthcoming if another message is received to the mobile terminating handset.
o The mobile terminating handset will also receive a notification to alert them that the message has been stored and recorded. This will help to stop false reporting.
Protect from Openmind Networks
It is not being suggested above that empowering teenage mobile subscribers to deal with bullying by SMS is the only solution to the problem. It is only a solution to one aspect and it has to be used in conjunction with other preventative and reactive measures. But the fact remains that there is technology available today (Protect from Openmind Networks) that can help tighten and regulate the bullying by SMS channel.
The commercial reality of most mobile markets is that they are either close to 100% penetration or in many cases are topping penetration rates of 125%. In markets such as China and India the large urban centres are already close to 100% penetration so the growth rates in the future will begin to decline. Mobile operators are monitoring churn rates and are looking at innovative ways to reduce it and keep their most loyal customers and other less profitable segments of their subscriber base. Some customers are more profitable than others and a service such as Protect that affords a sense of security from the bullying by SMS phenomenon will generate customer loyalty and in turn will lead to reduced churn rates.
The teenage market is generally categorised as multibranders (not particularly loyal to any one brand) and as switchers (price sensitive) so moving them along the customer lifecycle to a point where they become habitual or loyal to the mobile operator’s brand is key and the sooner this can be achieved , the more profitable it becomes. The Protect service can be deployed to win custom and favour from the teenage market and the pricing model may be that the parent or guardian pays for the service.
A key differentiating service can be deployed into the SMS channel permitting mobile operators to charge a fee for the Protect service that provides a layer of protection to their subscribers and at the same time generates new recurring revenues.
Survey | Results
- In both Europe and North America recent TV and media coverage have placed the spotlight on the issue of bullying. Bullying by SMS, not to be confused with cyber bullying and whilst the two may occur in tandem, is emerging as a virulent threat to vulnerable sections of our pre-teen and teen society.
- Openmind Networks conducted an SMS based survey among mobile professionals in Europe and North America and demonstrated that 94% of those surveyed believed bullying by SMS to be a reality. The survey was conducted via SMS among a pan European and North American mobile professional audience and 412 responded to the survey questions. The survey measured mobile professional’s opinion on bullying by SMS as well as their opinion on who should provide the protection against this threat.
"As a parent, my immediate concern is the safety and protection of my children and if there is a solution that can be deployed to prevent this form of bullying, then of course I will want to see it deployed without delay," said Michael O’Brien, VP Marketing at Openmind Networks. The mobile community has to move beyond the ‘educate and warn your children and they will be safe cycle of advice’ as there is irrefutable evidence that bullying by SMS is on the increase and is now an ever present reality both inside and outside the school community.”
- When asked if bullying by SMS was a reality 94% or 387 respondents said yes proving that the wider mobile telecoms community accepts that fact. 91% or 391 believe that mobile operators should provide a service to assist in preventing bullying by SMS and on the issue of price and who would pay for the service, 75% or 307 respondents said they would. This leaves 1 in 4 mobile professionals that would not be willing to pay for the service which places the spotlight on the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies of the mobile operators and how they are advising subscribers to deal with bullying by SMS. The bottom line is that the survey results show that there is a groundswell of support for installing preventative measures and also that the overwhelming majority of subscribers are willing to pay for the service.
- “The survey results tell us that the mobile operator must power the process to help prevent bullying by SMS and every step of the trial, test and deploy cycle to build truly effective and profitable long term relationships with its subscriber base,” added O’Brien. “The fact of the matter is that the only game in town is customer retention and not acquisition, so offering a uniquely differentiating service that can help safeguard subscribers and at the same time generate new recurring revenues is a win-win scenario for the operator and subscriber.”