Cyberbullying merely takes this phenomenon to the next level.
All instances are characterised by a "power imbalance", a clear "intent to inflict harm", and the repeated occurrence of harmful acts (Varjas, Henrich & Meyers, 200).
According to Bauman (209), "[c]yberbullying is possible because of the wide availability of digital technology", and the proliferation of technological innovations will therefore always mean that research and, by implication, legislation, will lag behind.
This is not to say that a magnitude of research on cyberbullying, especially in foreign jurisdictions, had not been done in recent years, but that the "very nature" of electronic communication leads to different results (Kowalski et al., 2014: 1074).
Bullying conjures up visions of the traditional schoolyard bully and the subordinate victim.
However, bullying is no longer limited to in-person encounter, having come to include cyberbullying, which takes place indirectly over electronic media.
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.
The focus then shifts to the legal position in respect of cyberbullying in both the United States and South Africa, after which the paper will investigate the way in which cyberbullying could be halted in order to give effect to our constitutional imperatives, and to balance the rights of the various parties in a school environment.
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.
Bullying in general leads to feelings of "incompetence, alienation and depression" (Le Roux, Rycroft & Orleyn, 20); in schools, it has been shown that cyberbullying may result in "low self-esteem, family problems, academic problems, school violence, delinquent behaviour and suicidal thoughts" (Goodno, 205).