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Bullying in physical and cyber spaces: experiences of young adult survivors in the digital age.

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Bullying has become a serious problem for young people all over the world. Using action research within the critical paradigm, this qualitative study examines the experiences of young adult survivors of both physical and cyber bullying. Against a backdrop of rapid technological advances in social media communication and the blurring of physical and virtual bullying contexts, survivors provide poignant insights into how they grapple with the psycho-social impacts of their experiences. These impacts include pain, poor self-image, fear, loneliness, and feelings of dehumanisation. The study reveals that filmed incidents of physical bullying posted on social media tethers the physical realm to cyber space creating shifts and extensions along the dimensions of content, space, time, and participants. One of the unique contributions of this study is a discussion on the interlocking nature of the four dimensions of extension which gives rise to the concept of extended bullying. The exploration of these multiple extensions provides insights into a particular and complex form of bullying across physical and cyber spaces and how to develop educational interventions in response. The research design, supported by the theoretical insights of Paulo Freire, Bradley Evans, and Henry Giroux, provides a framework for knowledge production through partnerships that involved reflection, sustained dialogue, and creative action with survivors, youth and teachers. While revealing how pervasive and damaging extended bullying is, the study also exposes how psycho-social impacts are only fully recognised and understood when the phenomenon of bullying is viewed through the prism of multidimensional extensions. The study emphasises the need to balance rigorous scholarship with the promotion of democratic social change.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.