A scary new social media craze called baiting is sweeping the internet – and worryingly, it’s becoming more popular in the UK.
Baiting is where teenagers are cyberbullied by others lying about them having sex online.
Bullies post photos or videos of their victims – both boys and girls can be targets – to Twitter, YouTube or instagram, calling them ‘sluts’ and accusing them of being promiscuous.
The bullies aren’t afraid to name their victims either, or of going into lurid detail about what the victim has done – even though it is all made up.
Often the main aim of this baiting is to humiliate someone that they simply don’t like.
Pictures of the victims will have been found and taken from social media pages – and can even be of them in underwear or swimwear.
As well as naming and shaming them, the bullies link to the person’s social sites too, which makes it even easier for others to target them of cause rumours.
The whole point of the sick phenomenon is to humiliate the victim by posting lies about the victim and sex.
The sites that the bullies use tend to be locally focused, meaning the victims have to contend with friends, family and people at their schools, in their area, seeing the posts. Baiting seems to be the modern version of playground bullying – the type of bullying that can follow your child home.
While it’s unknown how many teenagers have been victims, Lauren-Seager-Smith, Chief Executive of the children’s anti-bullying charity Kidscape, tells The Sun that she believes almost all young people know someone it’s happened to.
She went on to explain to The Sunday Times: ‘When I was in school in the 80’s you’d get gossip about people having done something at a party but it would fizzle out.’
‘The difference now is this constant 24-hour churn of comment, information and the potential to reach a very large group very quickly.’
And, sadly the impact of baiting is far-reaching. As well as the shame of the accusations, victims will often be incessantly bullied at school because of them. Extreme cases might lead to self-harm as kids don’t have the tools to cope with the shame.
To put online bullying into perspective, in 2016, Childline reportedly ran 12,000 counselling sessions with young people who wanted to discuss online issues.