Scots teachers subject to ‘vicious’ online abuse from parents

One in seven teachers had experienced upsetting experiences on social media from parents. Picture: John Devlin
One in seven teachers had experienced upsetting experiences on social media from parents. Picture: John Devlin
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Teachers in Scotland are facing increasingly worse “vicious” and “abusive” posts from parents on social media, an investigation has revealed.

Teaching unions said that parents are subjecting their members to a range of abuse from threats of assault and mob justice to gossip about their private lives.

More than 1,000 members of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) revealed that one in seven had experienced upsetting experiences on social media from parents.

A further poll by a primary teacher of teaching colleagues showed a fellow teacher being called a “nasty cow”, “bitch” and “the only teacher my daughter has ever hated”.

One teacher wrote “Made aware of a parent threatening to batter me on Facebook page”.

Another said: “Parents choosing to be offensive about a member of the department on [Facebook] – obviously didn’t think it would be seen by teaching staff as she wasn’t ‘friends’ with the person. Was all round the school. Police involved.”

Other instances included a parent noticing a teacher’s profile on a dating website who then tracked them down on Facebook, subjecting the teacher to regular harassment.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the SSTA, said that abuse on social media should be treated in the same way as abusive behaviour from a parent who had come into the school.

“Parents need to realise that being on social media is not an opportunity to say disparaging things. It is the same as storming into a school and shouting at a teacher.

“Being subjected to this abuse is very undermining for teachers. They have to walk into a classroom knowing that many of the pupils will have been reading insults about them.”

The research also found that more than a third of teachers were not aware of their school having a social media policy.

Mr Searson said: “We want to see the local authorities taking the side of the teacher and challenging this threatening behaviour.

“We’re aware of some local authorities being very good at tackling it. However, despite instances increasing some head teachers don’t deal with it very often.”