Teachers tell of online death threats and insults by students and parents
Teachers are facing death threats, abuse and allegations of serious crimes by pupils and parents through social networking sites, according to a teaching union.
Online abuse of teachers is widespread, with more than four out of ten teachers (42 per cent) of those questioned, saying they had been a victim, a survey by the NASUWT has found.
General secretary Chris Keates said: “Some of the findings in this survey are truly shocking. Yet there are no adequate procedures in place, locally or nationally, to protect teachers.
“It is clear that some employers are seriously failing in their duty of care by neither having appropriate policies in place nor taking incidents seriously when reported.”
More than six out of ten (61.2 per cent) of those who responded to the survey said a pupil had written an insulting comment about them on a social networking or internet site, while more than a third (38.1 per cent) said a student had made comments about their competence or performance as a teacher.
Nearly one in ten (9.1 per cent) said they had faced allegations that they behaved inappropriately with pupils. One teacher told the survey a student had threatened to “slit my throat”, while another told of a pupil who had written “my English teacher should actually die”.
One teacher said a student had posted my teacher “is a rapist”.
One teacjer said there had been claims they were unable to do their job and should be sacked. The teacher told the survey there had been “lies about me: saying inappropriate things to pupils, insulting pupils, having sexually absurd behaviours. Generally defaming and insulting me, spreading rumours about me throughout the school”.
The poll, which questioned 1,500 teachers, found the majority of pupils responsible (60 per cent) were aged 11 to 16, although some teachers reported comments by primary children.
And it is not just pupils who are responsible for posting abuse about school staff online. About 16 per cent said they had had a comment posted about them by a parent in the past two years.
Of these, more than half (52.7 per cent) said they had faced insulting comments, 47.7 per cent said there had been comments about their performance, and 13.3 per cent said there had been allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards students.
The poll reveals that nearly two-thirds (64.1 per cent) of those questioned said they had reported an incident of online abuse, with teachers most likely to tell their headteacher.
Among teachers who did not report an incident, more than half (53.2 per cent) said they did not think anything could be done. And of those who did tell someone about online abuse, only a third (32.2 per cent) said they thought the pupil had been disciplined appropriately and they felt supported.
The poll also asked teachers to say which social networking or other internet sites comments had been posted on.
Some 751 people responded to the question, with Facebook the most commonly cited (by 77 per cent).
Facebook said it had “clear, strong rules” governing behaviour on the site, with tools on almost every page allowing anyone to report inappropriate behaviour.
This is then looked at and content or pages can be removed.
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