Cyber Bullying Among Students in A Rural High School in Limpopo Province-South Africa
Not much is known about cyber bullying as a side effect of wide spread use of internet and social networking sites especially among young people in the rural areas. The aim of this study was to explore the use of internet sites and the experience of cyber bullying and its effect on the emotional well-being and academic performance of students in a rural high school in Limpopo Province in South Africa. Eighty randomly selected students consisting of 50 females and 30 males from grade 8 to 10 in a high school participated in a survey. The findings displayed high rate of incidents: 84% of participants used social networking sites more than twice a week, 90% used Facebook, 64% experienced cyber bullying at least once a week, some of them (19%) two to three times a week. The most dominant form of bullying was sexual offensive (68%), followed by spreading rumours (66%), aggressive messages (65%), harmful remarks (61%), and picture of parts of body (60%). Majority of victims were females: in total 70% of participating females were bullied at least once a week. The emotional burden was heavy as 35% became depressed and 23% thought of suicide. Academic effect was also noticeable as 54% of them avoided school, 41% reduced participation in class, and 34% thought of quitting school. Results show that rural students experience high levels of cyber bullying which threaten their psychological well-being and academic performance. Moreover, they donít have the necessary support as they recommended establishment of school anti-cyber bullying policy, training of teachers and counselling facilities at the school. Use of internet sites has become an integral part of young peopleís lives in rural areas for which they are not prepared. Many other rural youth might be suffering similar challenges in solitary. Due to gravity of the problem authors call for government intervention in the form of cyber protection training campaign at rural schools.
Keywords: Cyber sexual harassment, cyber sexual offensive, rumour, suicidal thoughts, victims.