Heads in appeal over internet attacks on staff

HEAD teachers are calling on social networking sites to do more to prevent intimidation and personal attacks on school staff over the internet.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the fastest growing source of calls to its advice line involved misuse of Facebook and other social networking sites.

The union said head teachers had effective strategies in place to deal with misuse of social networking by pupils and staff but were "virtually defenceless" when it was carried out by people in the wider community. It said the misuse of such sites includes personal attacks on staff and unsubstantiated allegations about management decisions.

Head teachers have called on Facebook and other social networking sites to respond more quickly to reports of abuse and implement "streamlined" mechanisms for reporting such abuse.

NAHT's general secretary Russell Hobby said: "Too often, social networking sites are a medium for the unreasonable and the unprincipled and have a momentum out of all proportion to reality."

A Facebook spokeswoman said the site had rules about what can be posted and systems in place for people to complain.

She added: "Reports of a serious nature, such as bullying or harassment, are prioritised and reviewed by a team of trained assessors within 24 hours."