Teachers cyberbullied by students and their parents

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Social networks

Teacher. Image courtesy of ShutterstockOne in five UK teachers have been cyberbullied by students and/or their parents, according to a survey published by the teachers' union NASUWT.

According to the union's press release, one in five respondents - 21% - reported being the target of nasty comments posted on social media sites.

Out of those comments, 64% were posted by pupils, 27% were from parents, and 9% came from both pupils and parents.

Trolling of teachers has the same rank odor as that of other groups: "abusive and highly offensive language" is common, the survey found, while the content can focus on teachers' appearance, competence or sexuality.

Most of the comments were posted by secondary pupils, and most relied on Facebook to deliver their toxins.

The pupils' posts broke down like so:

  • 47% of respondents received insulting comments.
  • 50% had a comment made about their performance.
  • 26% saw videos/photos posted of them that had been taken without their consent.

while parents' abuse broke down like this:

  • 57% of bullied respondents said they received insulting comments from parents.
  • 63% had a comment made about their performance as a teacher.

A bit more than half - 58% - of teachers didn't report their pupils' abuse to their employer or to police.

For 64% of the bullied teachers, this lack of reporting was because they didn't think anything could be done, while 21% didn't think it would be taken seriously, 9% were too embarrassed, and 6% had previously reported incidents that hadn't been dealt with.

Out of those teachers who did report the abuse to a headteacher, 40% said that no action was taken against pupils, and 55% said no action was taken against parents.

Things turn out even grimmer for those teachers who reported incidents to the police: 77% said no action was taken against pupils, and 76% said no action was taken against parents.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, pointed a finger at the Coalition Government for doing away with guidance on social media and internet safety.

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. 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.

One of the Coalition Government’s first acts was to remove the guidance on the grounds that it was unnecessary bureaucracy.

Schools need policies to prevent abuse and outline the sanctions that will be taken against parents and pupils who cyber-abuse staff, he said.

Cyber bullying. Image courtesy of ShutterstockHow should teachers, or schools, respond when they get attacked?

I came across a useful article from Teaching Times about the growing trend of teacher cyberbullying that had some sound advice.

For starters, educators should bear in mind that defamation laws come into play if libelous allegations get posted.

Generally, defamation entails communication of false statements that harm reputation.

If somebody's calling a teacher fat and ugly, that's offensive, but courts generally wouldn't consider it defamatory. To allege that a given teacher is a child predator or another type of pervert would, on the other hand, likely be defamatory.

Teachers and school systems that might decide to press charges should keep evidence of cyberbullying: save text messages, print out emails, and use screen captures to keep a permanent record of site content where necessary.

This advice isn't only for teachers, of course, but for any cyberbullying victim.

Image of teacher and cyberbullying courtesy of Shutterstock.

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8 Responses to Teachers cyberbullied by students and their parents

  1. Mang · 161 days ago

    It's not a huge surprise that kids behave like this, and to be honest, even the parents. It'd be interesting to see whether it's the kids and parents in the same family doing the abusing. My guess would probably be yes.

    It's sickening that people behave like this. These will be the same people who will make the most noise if the same teacher refuses to teach their spawn, too.

    If there is a genuine grievance with a teacher, it should be reported properly. At least in my experience, it works. Bullying like this not only hurts the teacher, probably unnecessarily, but also will only make the problem worse. And, it will weaken any claim a parent might make over poor performance.

    It's no wonder there are staffing problems if this is the way teachers are treated.

  2. MikeP · 161 days ago

    Simple solution - don't be on any social media and don't waste your time that way. Get real and be a real person.

    • Blake · 161 days ago

      That is the equivalent of putting your head in the sand.
      Even if you aren't on social media that doesn't mean you aren't being bullied. That just means it's harder to prove. No proof unless you made an illegal recording. Social media actually makes it easier to catch these problem people in the act.

  3. Tony · 161 days ago

    Sticks and stones...aren't we supposed to have adults teaching our young people

  4. In the 21st century when one is a service provider then one can expect feedback from one's customers.

    Calling the cops because your customer didn't like your service is sooooooo 20th century!

    • Austin Williamson · 160 days ago

      Ah, but when feedback is "Kill yourself" or "I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire" or "I hope you die"?

      People like that need to piss right off.

  5. Reader · 160 days ago

    So many narcissistic parents raise narcissistic children - apparently more now than ever. They lash out at anyone who gets in the way of what their darlings want to do or have rather than discipline said darlings when the latter are nasty to others.

    This is somewhat off-topic, but I think the case of former school bus monitor Karen Huff Klein had a happy ending. Even so, I doubt the perps (Klein's tormenters) will turn out to be upstanding citizens. The apple rarely falls far from the tree.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.