Primary and secondary school teachers are facing death threats, abuse and allegations of sexually absurd behaviour from cyberbullies, including parents and pupils, a new poll suggests.
More than two in five teachers said they have been a victim of online abuse as more and more pupils and their parents take to Facebook and other social networking sites to post insulting and threatening comments.
One teacher interviewed said that a student had posted that they were going to “slit my throat”. Another said “my English teacher should actually die”, while a third claimed their teacher “is a rapist”.
The survey was conducted by the teaching union NASUWT and reveals that online abuse of teachers is widespread. The poll questioned more than 1,500 teachers, and found that although 60 per cent of pupils responsible for the abuse were aged between 11 and 16, some teachers faced comments from primary schoolchildren.
Around 16 per cent of teachers questioned said they had a comment posted about them by parents in the last two years. More than half, or 52.7 per cent, of these were insulting comments, and 48 per cent said they were comments about their performance. But 13 per cent said the comments were of allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards students.
Facebook emerged as the site most commonly used by cyberbullies, according to 751 people who responded to a question on which social networking sites comments had been posted on. The site was raised by 77 per cent of teachers who stated which site had been used.
Nearly two thirds of teachers surveyed said they had reported an incident of online abuse. Most teachers told the school’s headteacher.
The results prompted calls to protect teachers from teaching unions. Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “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.”
Facebook urged teachers to visit their Family Safety Centre for “guidance and tips on managing Facebook, in and out of the classroom”. A spokesman added: “Discussion about schools and teachers takes place on buses, in homes and at the school gates. It is no surprise that these conversations extend online.
“When conversation crosses a line and turns into harassment, teachers have access to reporting tools on almost every page of the site, unlike much of the wider web.”