Half of teachers targeted with abusive comments online, survey finds

Abuse includes videos being taken of teachers without their consent

Half of teachers have been targeted with negative or abusive comments online in the past year, research by a teaching union has found.

A survey of more than 1,300 teachers by the NASUWT teaching union, published as the union opens its annual conference in Birmngham today, found 50 per cent had been targeted on social media in relation to their role as a teacher.

Of those, 55 per cent said the comments had been posted by pupils, up from 48 per cent in 2015. Fifty two per cent said the comments were from parents.

Among the teachers targeted by pupils, 31 per cent said videos or photos had been taken of them without their consent and posted online. Seventy nine per cent received insulting comments and 11 per cent received allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

There were reports of staff being being targeted by pupils aged as young as seven.

One teacher said pupils had started a website called “teachers we want to f**k”, with photos of female teachers. Another said a pupil told them online to “drink bleach” and a third said two pupils had posted a song online in which they claimed the teacher had had an affair.

The NASUWT survey also found more than half of teachers knew of pupils who had used social media to share sexual messages, pictures or videos. One said they knew of a seven-year-old child who had done this, and a quarter said they knew of eleven-year-olds involved in sexting.

Of the teachers targeted by parents, 70 per cent received comments about their performance as a teacher and nine per cent saw allegations of inappropriate behaviour with students. Seventeen per cent said they were targeted by “threatening behaviour” from parents online.

Just over a third of teachers (34 per cent) did not report the incident. Others said they had received rape threats and been targeted with racist, sexist and homophobic abuse.

One respondent said a parent had threatened online to get teachers sacked or “bring them down”.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The level of abuse that teachers are suffering at the hands of parents online is simply unacceptable. How can pupils be expected to use social media sensibly and safely when parents are using it inappropriately?

“Online abuse has a devastating impact on teachers and pupils lives and yet no serious action is taken by the government to ensure that schools are responding appropriately to this abuse.”

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