More teachers abused on social media

Huge rise in the number of teachers being targeted for abuse via social media in the last year, a survey by the NASUWT has found

Nearly 1,500 teachers responded to the Union’s third annual survey of teachers and of these 60% reported having had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils and parents, compared to 21% in 2014.

Particularly concerning is that the majority of the significant increase appears to be as a result of an increase in the number of parents abusing teachers online; 40% of teachers had experienced this in the last year, compared to 27% in 2014. 

Abusive, sexist, racist, homophobic and highly offensive language is common, accompanied by remarks about teachers’ appearance, competence or sexuality. Teachers also had false allegations and malicious slurs targeted at them. 

There has been a rise in the number of teachers receiving insulting comments from pupils (62% compared to 47% in 2014) and parents (64% compared to 57% in 2014). 

Over a third (34%) of teachers had videos or photos taken of them without consent and posted online by pupils, compared to 26% in 2014, and 15% had threats made against them by a parent, compared to 7% in 2014.

The overwhelming majority of comments were posted by secondary pupils, mainly on Facebook, although there have also been rises in pupils using newer sites such as Instagram and Snapchat to abuse teachers.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The NASUWT has campaigned tirelessly for many years to highlight the need to protect teachers from the abuse of social media by pupils and parents. It is deeply worrying to see that the abuse of teachers has risen by such a huge margin this year.

“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.

“While there has been some improvement in action taken on reported abuse, there are still too many cases where no appropriate action is taken and teachers are being left devastated, humiliated and traumatised. 

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“An incoming Government must take this issue seriously and require schools not only to have a zero-tolerance policy, but to use all the sanctions available to them to address the abuse of staff.”

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