We know anybody can be the target of online abuse. The anonymous trolls who get a kick out of targeting people who’ve done nothing to deserve it don’t appear to follow a set of criteria when it comes to choosing their victims. It’s another situation entirely when someone you know is abusing you online. Social media sites make it all too easy for jealousy, family fallouts and bitter break-ups to escalate to cyberbullying.
But teachers being abused by pupils and parents? Is this really going on?
It is and it’s becoming increasingly common. A survey of teachers’ trade union members reveals that the number of teachers who’ve been subjected to social media abuse from the kids they teach — and their parents — has more than doubled in 12 months.
Teaching union NASUWT said school staff are being targeted with sexist, racist and homophobic comments as well as personal remarks about their appearance and professional ability. In one shocking example a photograph of a teacher was posted on the internet with the caption “bitch.” Another teacher said they were harassed for nine months by students who sent sexually explicit messages and set up a fake social media account in their name.
Last year the NASUWT reported that teachers had been told they would be killed or have their throats slit.
Almost 1,500 union members were surveyed and 60 percent of them said they have had malicious comments about their competence as a teacher posted on social media sites. In 2014 the figure was 21 percent. Of these 48 percent said the online abuse came from pupils, 40 percent said it came from parents and 12 percent said it was a joint effort between pupils and their parents.
“It is deeply worrying to see that the abuse of teachers has risen by such a huge margin this year,” said NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates. “Equally concerning is that it appears that more parents are the perpetrators of the abuse. The vile, insulting and personal comments are taking their toll on teachers’ health and wellbeing and undermining their confidence to do their JOB.”
“Many teachers tell us that they suspect they are being abused online but dare not look for fear they could never walk into their school again to have to face their abusers,” Keates added. “While there has been some improvement in action taken on reported abuse, there are still too many cases where no appropriate action is taken and teachers are being left devastated, humiliated and traumatised.”
It’s disgusting to know that teachers are being bullied in this way. If a parent has an issue with a particular teacher there are far more productive ways to handle the situation. If parents are venting their frustrations in an abusive or threatening manner what hope do their kids have?