Social media used to bully teachers, survey finds

by - 7th April 2012, 8.30 GMT

Social media is being used routinely to abuse teachers, a survey by the NASUWT has found.

Teachers have been issued with death threats, accused of crimes including paedophilia and rape, have been subject to sexist and racist abuse and have had their pictures distributed across the internet.

Of those responding to the survey, 42% said they had an insulting comment, allegation of inappropriate behaviour with a pupil, comment on their performance or other comment posted online or on a social networking site.

The vast majority (60%) of pupils engaged in cyber bullying of their teachers were between 11 and 16 years old, but some were primary school pupils.

Among the social networks used by pupils to comment about their teachers, 77% used Facebook, 21% used RateMyTeachers.com, 6% used Twitter and 1% used MySpace.

And the survey found 16% of teachers said parents were also using social networking to post comments about teachers.

Although 64% of teachers reported the incidents, many also felt they were not supported properly or the complaint was not taken seriously enough. Almost half (46%) of those either felt that the sanction taken against the pupil was inadequate or that no action was taken at all. Only 32% felt the appropriate action was taken.

And almost half (49%) of those teachers who had comments posted by parents either did not feel supported or had no action taken. Only 29% felt that appropriate action was taken.

The majority of teachers (70%) either do not have or are not aware of policies and procedures within school to protect them against such incidents.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said:  “In the first two days the NASUWT online survey was open, over 1,000 teachers responded demonstrating the extent of the concern among teachers.

“Some of the findings in this survey are truly shocking.

“Yet there are no adequate procedures in place locally or nationally to protect teachers.

“It is clear that some employers are seriously failing in their duty of care by neither having appropriate policies in place nor taking  incidents seriously when reported.

“But it is the Coalition government that is found most seriously wanting.

“Until this Coalition took office, there was comprehensive guidance in place nationally, providing details of teachers legal rights and entitlements and a suite of good practice for schools to use to protect teachers and pupils from this kind of abuse.

“This has now been reduced to just one paragraph on cyberbullying, sacrificed on the altar of this Coalition’s flawed and distorted so-called policy of reducing bureaucracy and demonstrating its lack of concern for the wellbeing of staff.

“Until the government and teachers’ employers recognise that the welfare of the workforce is important and these issues must be tackled seriously, this unacceptable abuse will not only continue but is likely to escalate.”