Online death threats and claims of serious crime posted about teachers

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TEACHERS are facing death threats, abuse and allegations of serious crime by pupils and parents through social networking sites, according to a survey.

Online abuse of teachers is widespread, with more than two-fifths of those questioned saying they had been a victim, the survey by teaching union NASUWT reveals.

Of those, more than three-fifths, 61.2 per cent, said a pupil had written an insulting comment about them on a social networking or internet site, while more than a third said a student had made comments about their competence as a teacher.

Nearly one in 10 said they had faced allegations of “behaving inappropriately” with pupils.

One teacher told the survey that a student had posted that they were going to “slit my throat”, while a second said a pupil had written “my English teacher should actually die” and a third said a student had posted that a teacher “is a rapist”.

The poll, which questioned more than 1,500 teachers, found the majority of pupils responsible were aged between 11 and 16, although some comments were made by primary school pupils.

In some cases pupils’ parents also posted abusive comments.

The poll found Facebook was the most commonly cited website – by 77.1. per cent of teachers – for people leaving abusive comments.

Facebook said it had “clear, strong rules” governing behaviour on the site, with tools on almost every page allowing anyone to report inappropriate behaviour.