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In this electronic age, cyber platforms proliferate at an astonishing rate, all attracting the youth in large number, and posing the risk that they may become subject to cyberbullying.
In the United States of America, several teenagers have committed suicide due to cyberbullying (Goodno, 205-647) and "school taunting" (Burnham, Wright & Houser, 2011:7), which led the legislature in various states to seek a uniform definition of cyberbullying, to investigate the prevalence and frequency of cyberbullying in schools.Victims of cyberbullying seem to be at a greater risk of experiencing poor psychosocial adjustment, as many internet users are socially isolated, and incite participation from peers in a cyberworld.Therefore, appropriate preventative and intervention strategies should be developed to ensure the "safety of all students" (Li, 2080).Hinduja and Patchin have stated that "cyber-bullying is a growing problem because increasing numbers of kids are using and have completely embraced online interactivity" (2014:3).Judging by the medium through which cyber bullying is perpetrated, one would be tempted to argue that a child can avoid being cyberbullied simply by not logging on electronically.What does stand firm, however, is that South African society needs to take a firm stand to protect our learners from the negative effects of cyberbullying, such as "depression, pathological technology use, obsessive and addictive technology behaviours" and cyberbullying, specifically (and should South Africa investigate the position in other countries, such as the USA (Kowalski et al., 2074)).
There is no single definition for cyberbullying: in South Africa, Belsey defined cyberbullying as "bullying which involves the use of information and communication technologies, such as e-mail, cellphone and text messages, instant messaging, and defamatory online personal polling websites, to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm others" (in Burton & Mutongwizo, 2009:1).
One of the most important social spheres in which children operate is the school environment.
The significant influence that educational institutions have on children's psycho-educational development cannot be over-stressed (Burton & Mutongwizo, 2009); the educational institution should therefore not only be a place of learning for the child, but a place of safety, too.
Goodno has argued that battling cyberbullying is one of the most pertinent "challenges facing public schools" in the United States of America (hereinafter 'the USA') (205).
Bullying is primarily defined as encompassing physical acts, such as hitting, kicking or pushing; verbal aggression, such as name-calling and abusive language; or relational aggression, such as spreading rumours or socially excluding peers.
To set the scene for studying the phenomenon, this article first presents a general overview of cyberbully-ing and its characteristics, as well as its effect on learners, schools and education.