Teachers face ‘deeply worrying’ rise in abuse from social media

The number of teachers facing abuse on social media has soared.
The number of teachers facing abuse on social media has soared.
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The number of teachers facing abuse on social media has more than doubled in just 12 months, it has been suggested.

School staff are being confronted with sexist, racist and homophobic remarks, as well as offensive comments about their appearance, competence in the classroom and malicious slurs, according to the NASUWT union.

In one case, a photo of a teacher was posted online with the word “b***h” underneath, while in another, pupils used the name of a heavily-pregnant school worker to post insults, the teaching union said. There have also been examples of parents hurling abuse through social media, including personal comments about teachers or their families.

The NASUWT said the figures, released a day before the union meets for its annual conference, were “deeply worrying”.

Overall, 60 per cent of the almost 1,500 NASUWT members polled said they have had comments or information posted about them on social networks, related to their work as a teacher. This is up from 21 per cent in 2014.

Of these, nearly half (48 per cent) said these remarks were posted by pupils, 40 per cent said they were put up by parents, and 12 per cent said both parents and pupils were responsible.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “It is deeply worrying to see that the abuse of teachers has risen by such a huge margin this year. Equally concerning is that it appears that more parents are the perpetrators of the abuse.

“The vile, insulting and personal comments are taking their toll on teachers’ health and wellbeing and undermining their confidence to do their job.

“Many teachers tell us that they suspect they are being abused online but dare not look, for fear they could never walk into their school again to have to face their abusers.”

The findings show that 62 per cent said pupils had posted insulting comments, while just over a third (34 per cent) said students had taken photos or videos without consent, a third received remarks about their performance as a teacher, nine per cent had faced allegations from pupils about inappropriate behaviour and eight per cent had been subjected to threatening behaviour.

While over half of pupils responsible were aged between 14 and 16, 38 per cent were aged between 11 and 14, the teachers’ poll found, a fifth were 16 to 19, and five per cent were seven to 11.

Among the examples published by NASUWT was the case of a student uploading a teacher’s photo and then, along with classmates, writing “b***h” and “t**t” underneath.

One teacher said they were harassed for nine months by students who sent sexually explicit messages and set up a fake social media account in their name.

The union said it had been told of a teacher receiving the comment “I hope she gets cancer”, while the heavily-pregnant worker had faced remarks such as “ugly f****** b***h” as well as having an account established in her name.

One parent told a teacher through social media that they were “rubbish” and a “bitch” who tried to kill their daughter by making her do PE and not allowing her to use her inhaler. The teacher concerned said the claims made against her were untrue.

Another school worker faced comments from a pupil’s family member about how they looked and that they were ugly.