One Third Of Teachers Have Been Bullied Online By Students And/Or Parents

A third of teachers have said they have been subjected to online bullying – including by parents who see them as ‘fair game’.

 
Student harassment of teachers is growing
 

Facebook and Twitter have been used to intimidate teachers over bad grades or simply because they are not liked.

More than a quarter of those that admit they have been targeted say the abuse has come from parents with one headteacher was driven to the brink of suicide by a year-long online hate campaign.

One parent even set up a ‘Google group’ and asked others to join in their abuse.

Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth Business School who researched the matter, said: ‘You expect a little bit of abuse from children. But when parents launch 12-month campaigns of abuse you have to think “something has gone wrong here”.

‘Parents are saying “You gave my child a bad grade, I’m going to give you a slating on Facebook” – it is something that is growing and growing.’

On top of the abuse from pupils and parents, one in 10 said they had been a victim of another teacher’s cyber-bullying.

The report said: ‘It seems to a subset of the population the teacher is no longer viewed as someone who should be supported in developing their child’s education, but a person whom it is acceptable to abuse if they dislike what is happening in the classroom.’

One headteacher told the team: ‘A parent set up a Google group and devoted it to saying unpleasant things about me. It started off as “the Head” and then he started referring to me just by my surname. He invited other parents to join in but only one did.

‘I eventually had a mini breakdown in the summer holiday needing an emergency doctor to be called out – as I had become suicidal – a fact that none of my staff know as I was much better by the start of the term – greatly helped by him removing his children from school.’

The survey was carried out by academics working for the UK Safer Internet Centre and it found that the most common type of abuse was through Facebook groups that targeted specific teachers.

There was also evidence of pupils creating fake Facebook pages in a teacher’s name, posting videos of teachers in class on YouTube, and setting up whole websites to be abusive about a single or group of staff.

RateMyTeacher.com was also mentioned a number of times as a site where abusive comments had been posted. In some cases where teachers had complained, the comments still remained.

‘While some defenders of free speech have argued that such sites have a right to exist, we would question the role of a site where pupils can freely post slanderous and abusive material about a member of the teaching profession and threats of violence toward them,’ the team wrote.

Prof Phippen said it was important more training is provided to senior managers and others to help combat the rise of online bullying.

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘At Facebook we have worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content they are concerned about.

‘Having the tools to report content in this way gives people more control over what is said about them on Facebook than over the wider web where few such controls exist.’

Posted on August 23, 2011, in legal, Online use, Parents and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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