November 16, 2012

A third of teacher-helpline calls are about online attacks

The BBC reported this week on the growing trend in teachers and other professionals who work with children being the victims of workplace violence via the internet. 

The Professionals Online Safety Help-line told the BBC that "a third of it's calls are about online attacks". Laura Higgins of the helpline said that "parents are often to blame" and that they "have had incidents where teachers have been subjected to abuse for very long periods of time and have needed professional help on dealing with those issues."

Cyberbullying may force out young teachers, says union

Unions say online abuse can have a devastating effect on teachers. The head teachers' union (NAHT) says it is increasingly concerned about internet bullying of teachers, and that it could force promising young teachers out of the profession unless more is done to tackle the problem.

Social networking sites are believed to be the primary type of platform used by parents and pupils to attack, threaten and insult teachers. 

The BBC states that figures obtained by the Associated Press news agency, through a freedom of information request, "show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions for electronic communications that are "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character", from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. The number of convictions grew from 873 in 2009 to 1,286 last year."

Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook say they take complaints of abuse and bullying seriously. Facebook for example has an online button to alert staff to any concerns

Bernadette Hunter, of the NAHT, said attacks by parents could be particularly damaging.

"Protracted campaigns of abuse is not something I think we should be expected to ignore," she said.

Ann investigation by the BBC in MAY 2012 reported that of the 1,500 teachers who responded to a survey on the matter, "42% reported things like insulting comments, allegations of inappropriate behaviour and having photos passed around the internet."

Read the full story

Click here for guidance on preventing and responding to cyberbullying

Click here for guidance on cyberbullying and supporting school staff 

Click here for training for school staff