Happy Slapping: What Is It and Why Is It So Cruel

Do you know what happy slapping is? It's a cruel practice that sometimes takes place among adolescents that consists of recording an aggression against the victim with a mobile phone and spreading it on social networks.
Happy Slapping: What Is It and Why Is It So Cruel
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

If you’ve ever heard about happy slapping but don’t know what it is and why it’s so cruel, you’re going to be shocked by what we’ll tell you in the article below.

Happy slapping

Happy slapping was born in the United Kingdom in 2005, but it’s already a term that’s used all over the world. It’s a practice that consists of recording an attack with a mobile phone and then posting it online and cyberbullying the victims.

Aggression can be physical or verbal, and it spreads like wildfire across social media. Unfortunately, in some cases, it goes viral and the victim feels terribly humiliated and harassed, not only by their aggressors but also by all the views the video receives.

Girls bullying a classmate while making a video with a smart phone.

Many times, the quest for likes or to be popular makes teenagers use this cruel technique of harassment with classmates or friends. The aggression can be planned or spontaneous, but in any case, it’s later posted on social media for entertainment and in order to gain followers.

It is, therefore, a form of cyberbullying and also a form of violence that teachers and educators must be aware of in order to recognize it and remedy it as soon as possible. It’s everyone’s duty to prevent these attacks and keep these videos from getting media coverage. What’s more, if necessary, they should have legal consequences.

When this trend started, it involved slapping strangers while recording the event with a cell phone and later uploading it to social media. The teenagers doing this thought it was funny to humiliate people of any age by doing this. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Happy slapping today

Currently, there are different ways to carry out this practice, which follows a series of patterns that we must be aware of in order to identify it and report it as soon as possible:

  • It’s normally planned by tweens and teens.
  • It’s usually carried out among peers of the same age.
  • The victim may be known or unknown.
  • There’s physical aggression that can be quite violent.
  • It’s usually carried out in a group and the victim is usually defenseless.
  • It’s recorded with a cell phone.
  • The video is broadcast on social media or messaging applications.

The consequences of happy slapping

Of course, this has consequences. In fact, it’s a crime because it causes moral damage to another person, as well as damage to physical integrity and also a person’s image. By disseminating these videos publicly through the internet, the victim’s right to privacy is violated, which is punishable by law.

It’s usually imputed as a crime when injuries occur or if there are threats or some type of coercion in the recorded images. The video will always have a humiliating, demeaning, and humiliating character.

The people who carry out the assault commit a crime, but so do those who record the video even if they don’t participate in the physical assault as such. Others who also commit crimes (possibly without knowing it) are all those who spread the images through social media.

If there are witnesses who don’t help the victim, they would also be committing a crime of failure to help. It’s not a game, it’s an act that’s penalized, and whoever carries it out should face the consequences of doing so.

A teen girl suffering from bullying on social networks.

Does your child experience this type of bullying?

It’s important to work on good communication with children so that, through dialogue, parents know what’s happening to them and how life is going outside the home when the parents aren’t by their side to protect them or know if something is happening to them.

In the same way, it’s essential to pay attention in case there are changes in your child’s behavior, mood, in their relationship with others, in their sleep, etc. If you detect any anomaly, it’s important to talk to them and take the appropriate measures.

In case they’ve suffered this type of harassment, it’s important to talk to the police and stop the dissemination of the video as soon as possible. It’s always necessary for the victim to feel protected and know that nothing bad is going to happen to them.

Protect your children from any kind of bullying. The best way to do this is by getting to know them and offering them information about the type of bullying that exists, why it happens, and how they can deal with this situation if they’re victims or bystanders.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.