Daya 2014 Seminar: Exploring Trauma of Cyber Bullying


Sindhu Anand

Dr. Sindhu Idicula (left) and Anand Ramaswamy explained cyber bullying that could take place through social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

By Pramod Kulkarni
HOUSTON: Bullying has taken on more traumatic dimensions in today’s social media. It is no longer restricted to childhood and the playground, but is affecting people of all ages and across personal, social and business realms, possibly leading to depression, and even suicide.

Daya, the community organization which serves South Asian families, presented a discussion titled “Our Experience, Our Voice: Exploring our social reality in the digital age”, at Rice University’s Ley Student Center on Sunday afternoon, September 14. The seminar was co-hosted by the Rice University’s South Asian Society.

At the outset, Daya Board Member Dr. Shaila Patel explained the organization’s services to help victims of domestic violence. “Founded in 1996, Daya’s services have grown in response to client needs. In 2013, Daya served 310 clients, amounting to five new clients per week.”

The seminar was held as part of Daya’s young adult initiative to create awareness of today’s social realities, Dr. Patel said.

The stage for the interactive sessions was set by seminar moderators Dr. Sindhu Idicula, professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, and Anand Ramaswamy, Daya volunteer and marketing manager at Envision Global Leadership.

Together, Sindhu and Anand reviwed the nature of various social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. “We may think of Snapchat as being temporary, but it is out there forever,” Anand explained.

Discussing the nature of cyber bullying, Sindhu and Anand said it involves “sending mean messages or threats to someone’s email or cell phone, spreading rumors online or through text, stealing a person’s account information to send damaging messages, pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person, and even creating a fake profile.”

“Social media is somewhat disconnected,” Sindhu suggested. “It allows us to say things we won’t to someone face-to-face. In the old days, you could get a break, but now cyber bullying can be 24/7.” Sindhu and Anand displayed statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey on youth behavior risk surveillance.

The CDC reported on the results of cyber bullying: “As many as 29.9% felt sad or hopeless, 17% considered suicide, 13.6% made a plan about suicide, 8% attempted suicide and 2.7% had injuries that required treatment.”

“According to the United Nation’s World Health Organization, India has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world. It is the leading cause of death for South Asian females between the ages of 15-24,” Anand explained.

Next came the most heart wrenching portion of the seminar wit a high school teacher coming on stage to explain how her battle with bullying in school led to depression and estrangement from her mother.

This, despite the fact  that she is an accomplished educator with a PhD in education.

The father was also on stage to explain how the family coped with the difficult situation.

“I was bullied in school from the age of 11. Kids wouldn’t let me sit next to them on schoolbus, they yelled ‘Gandhi’ as slur,” the victim explained. “There were frequent fights with my mother and I wanted to disappear into the background.”

The concurrent depression followed victim back to Houston after college and the problems were compounded with parental pressure to get married. At one time she even stabbed herself with a pen.

The path to recovery started when a psychiatrist friend talked to the victim’s parents and started her treatment with medicines and therapy.

The father offered this advice: “Children do want to tell their parents, but we don’t listen. The children need to know we love them. Regardless of how small the problem, listen to them.”

After a break, the attendees separated into breakout sessions, one for the parents and another one for youth/young adults.

These sessions afforded the attendees an opportunity to discuss their individual issues and express their thoughts and concerns.

The seminar concluded with Sindhu and Anand providing information on tools and resources that could be used to combat cyber bullying.


 NFL & Domestic Violence

Statement read by Daya Board Member Lakshmy Parameswaran:

“The nation is consumed with the video depicting NFL star Ray Rice knocking his wife, Janay Rice, unconscious and dragging her limp body. The negative publicity from the video has forced the NFL to take action by suspending Ray Rice indefinitely.

While this episode has captured the public’s attention, it is important to remember that thousands of American women—Black, White, Hispanic and Asian—experience Mrs. Rice’s pain and humiliation every single day, without the spotlight of the press on them. As an organization serving South Asian women experiencing domestic violence, Daya wants to use this opportunity to challenge everyone to look beyond the Rice episode to the pervasive problem of domestic violence that devalues women as a group, ignoring their safety and rights in the name of power, control, public image and profit.

We ask you to join in our efforts to change attitudes and promote a culture that respects women enough to take a stance against all forms of violence against women, wherever and whenever it happens.”