Cyber Bullying has become a hot topic in recent years and a new British-based survey revealed that teachers are not immune from Internet hostilities.
In its second annual survey, the UK’s largest teachers’ union found 21 percent of respondents reported seeing unsavory comments written about them on social networking sites and of those, 64 percent were from students, 27 percent were from parents and nine percent by both students and parents.
“Technology has transformed the working and social lives of many teachers and enhanced the learning experiences of pupils,” said Chris Keates , General Secretary of the NASUWT, in a press release . “However, it is clear that steps need to be taken to protect teachers from the abuse of social media by pupils and parents.”
Survey respondents said most disparaging comments revolved around their appearance, ability and sexuality. According to those teachers getting comments from pupils, 47 percent saw insulting comments and 50 percent had a remark made concerning their effectiveness as a teacher. Over one fourth saw videos or photos posted of them that had been taken without consent.
The NASUWT reported that teacher abuse included a student-started Facebook page that claimed a teacher wanted to kill him and a parent commenting online: “My son will fail now because of you.”
Other examples of abuse included fake Facebook profiles set up with sexual comments, including one page that had the ‘teacher’ posting, “I will rape every Year 8 pupil who comes to the school.”
“Teachers are often traumatized by the attacks made on them through social media,” Keates said. “Some have lost their confidence to teach once they see foul and personal remarks made by pupils in their classes and have left the profession.”
“Others have been so disturbed by the comments that their health has been affected,” she said.
Nearly 60 percent of teachers failed to report mistreatment from students to their supervisor or law enforcement officials. Almost two thirds said they did not file a report because they didn’t believe that anything might be done, 21 percent did not believe it would be given serious attention, nine percent were too uncomfortable and six percent had prior documented incidents that had not been addressed.
When teachers managed to report mistreatment to their supervisor, 40 percent said that measures were not taken towards pupils and 55 percent said action was not taken towards parents.
“Great strides had been made by the previous government, working in partnership with the NASUWT and other teacher unions and social media providers, in seeking to address this problem,” Keates said. “Comprehensive guidance had been produced about social media and internet safety which promoted good practice for schools on how to protect staff, and indeed pupils, from abuse.”
“Schools need policies which prevent abuse and identify sanctions which will be taken against parents and pupils who abuse staff in this way,” she added. “Schools should also be supporting staff in securing the removal of the offensive material from social media sites and encouraging the staff concerned to go to the police.”