Teachers are victims of cyberbullying

After research showed that one in five teachers has been abused online, the Education Secretary has issued advice on how to avoid being victimised. A survey from the NASUWT showed the extent that teachers are being bullied online, with more than 20% of teachers reporting having derogatory comments posted about them by parents and pupils. In one case, a pupil had tweeted comments to a teacher that not only insulted them but also their family members.

The Independent reports that the DfE has published guidance coinciding with Anti Bullying Week which pointed out that it isn’t only pupils who are victims of cyberbullying. “We all know the dangers children face from online bullies – but we sometimes forget that teachers are not immune from abuse which impacts on them professionally and personally,” Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said. “It’s vital that our teachers feel able to do their jobs properly, including being able to take a firm stance on poor behaviour. To do that they need to know their school will take action against online harassment and abuse.”

Teachers are being advised to take the following actions to minimise the threat of online abuse:
• Do not befriend pupils or former pupils on Facebook or Twitter.
• Try searching their own names on the internet to scan for any negative comments.
• Be wary of being tagged in inappropriate photographs or videos. (One teacher wasn’t appointed after the head who interviewed her found a picture of her drinking online.)
• Remove any compromising photos of themselves on beach holidays or attending parties.

ASCL’s Brian Lightman commented: “While new technologies and wider access to the internet bring exciting, educational opportunities, cyber-bullying can have a pernicious impact.”

Have you been a victim of cyberbullying and if so how has it affected you? Share your experiences with the Eteach community.

11 thoughts on “Teachers are victims of cyberbullying

  1. Social networking is for reasonable people. I am a teacher myself and can’t imagine sharing ANY personal information online with any students. Are they so desperate or trying to be “cool” that they need student -teacher liaison?

    To all the teachers who think they are cool by making friends with students online. Guess what, you’re not!!!

  2. I totally agree with Andrew. Haven’t these teachers heard of safeguarding? I work in a 6th form college & we don’t even reply to emails sent from a personal email address.

  3. While all this is sensible and somewhat paranoid, how sad that in an age where we all apparently have the rights to free speech and to live our lives “how we want”. That picture has nothing to do with the job, or their ability to do the job, and the person is presumably in their spare time enjoying themselves.
    I agree, that if a person is being racist/sexist/abusive towards others, or behaving inappropriately (such as putting pornographic pictures on their profile), that’s a different issue entirely.
    But teachers should not have be afraid to be wary of every single thing they do just incase they may find someone disagrees, it is folly and it is time schools and colleges stood up and said “teachers have the right to live their lives and have opinions too”.
    And as for online abuse from parents and pupils, if we did it of students or other staff we would be fired, so I see no reason why measures shouldn’t be put in place so that we are protected from online abuse.

  4. When I trained 41 years ago, these were the holds rules.
    Never be in a classroom on your own with a pupil, pupil will ALWAYS be believed.
    Never be in a room with 2 pupils, they have a collabarorative story to tell.
    Use your COMMON SENSE. Never be a friend..60 year old teacher to 15 year old pupil always means they are seem to be grooming, especially if it is male – female.
    All in the news due to LSA NOT TEACHER in a Durham school (I was a governor there)

  5. In reply to Andrew Ruff, I like to think that the teaching profession already have some techno-savvy sense and therefore need not be told this advice! I like to think the Amy Gehring thing from 2002 was the exception rather than the rule!

    That said, it’s quite alarming that Facebook (or any other social media) content which would not be a problem for numerous other professions (the online picture of a teacher drinking, for example) can be used against any teachers/would-be teachers.

    If they were taking drugs or doing something inappropriate in the pictures, I’d totally agree.. but I’d agree on that with any job, not just teaching.

    This mirrors to a large extent the basis of a 2009 article in the Daily Mail (http://goo.gl/WN3GKv). Are teachers expected to be teetotal robots? Are less than fair Heads and/or Governing Bodies going to use this line of “reasoning” on those who don’t follow their ideals?

  6. Sometimes I despair of people who are so quick to judge.

    While it is clear that ‘friending’ students is a woefully bad idea, it is unfair to expect teachers to exclude themselves from the online world in case pictures of them drinking or in beach wear should appear and be searchable.

    While you can protect yourself to a large extent by understanding and using the security and privacy settings for your personal accounts, you can’t always control how other people use or tag images of you.

    The boundary between public and private life is shifting rapidly and sometimes unpredictably. It is unfair to castigate teachers who might get caught on what someone considers to be the wrong side of that boundary.

    (That said, don’t friend, or follow students, that is really stupid…)

  7. I know lots of teachers or school staff members who have commented on school stuff on those media which is unacceptable and unprofessional . Though I have myself never been on Facebook and similar networks, I think that as a teacher you should not be seen drinking or wearing clothing which shows more than the example it should.
    It doesn’t mean teachers can’t do it, we are human beings with feelings after all, it just mean they shouldn’t advertise it. Young teachers often behave as the modern times dictate it but sadly our job is already suffering from so little respect, this wild use of social media only damages it more.
    Similarly, pupils and parents should be held responsible for the offence they cause hardworking people who do their job, and it’s unacceptable they should be publicly insulted , affecting them, their family and more.

  8. Pupils and teachers have a Professional relationship.
    They are not your friends. FB and Twitter should be actively discouraged.
    Having said that I read recently that some schools are giving out the phone numbers of teachers to parents so that they can contact them about homework etc. This should be stopped – an email address should be sufficient.

  9. RateMyTeachers.com. are publishing information about teachers that is not true. Anyone is able to rate the teachers, so of course, if somebody has a grudge against a teacher, they can simply just rate the teacher very low and talk a lot of nonsense. I tried to get hold of admin of RateMyTeachers.com a few years now, as my rating is also on Google search..but in vain. SO I am actually bullied because these information appears on the internet where everybody that google my name, can see this unfair remarks about my teaching, discipline, preparation, lesson plans, etc.I do not know of anybody else with the same name that taught at the same school at the same time. When I got hold of admin , they told me that they could not clear the names or take it off the lists. So all my hard work of all the years are in vain, because a simple site can ruin my name. Can somebody please give me guidance as this thing is worrying me now for so many years. I grew up with”, I good name is better than the best oil”.

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