Don’t Be A Victim - Stop Cyberbullying
The NASUWT joined organisations round the UK and globally to support Safer Internet Day 2015 on 10 February.
Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the day aims to promote the safe and positive use of technology.
The theme for 2015 is ‘Let’s create a better internet together’ and provides an opportunity for schools to explore the responsibility we all have to help create a kinder online community.
The NASUWT has long been leading the way in protecting teachers from the alarming rise in cyberbullying incidents by providing them with ongoing guidance and training about how to protect themselves in the workplace.
A survey conducted by the NASUWT earlier this year into the abuse of teachers on social media sites revealed the shocking scale of the problem. More than a fifth of teachers reported having had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils or parents.
Respondents reported having been issued with death threats, accused of crimes including paedophilia and rape, subject to sexist and racist abuse and having their pictures distributed across the internet.
How to get involved?
The UK Safer Internet Centre has developed education packs to help schools deliver activities for pupils and parents and carers on staying safe online.
These include lesson plans and activities for all age groups on creating a better internet and showing kindness to others online. A parent pack has also been developed to educate parents and carers about online safety.
Find out more at www.saferinternetday.org.uk
Developments in technology have made significant improvements in support for learning and in the working practices of teachers and other members of the school workforce.
The NASUWT is concerned, however, by the growing evidence that the abuse of technology, particularly mobile phones, e-mails and Internet sites, is not only contributing to increasing workload but is also providing a vehicle for the prejudice-related bullying and harassment of staff and for false allegations to be made against them.
Cyberbullying is having a devastating effect on teachers’ health, wellbeing, confidence, self-esteem and in some cases their career progression as a result of employers trawling the sites for information.
Tell Us Your Experiences
If you have suffered cyberbullying as a teacher, let us know below stating when and in what form this abuse occurred and whether it was dealt with effectively. All responses are treated with the strictest confidentiality and are used solely to inform NASUWT's work to protect teachers from cyberbullying in the future. The form is not a request for casework assistance for which you should contact your National/Regional Centre.
Safer Internet Day
The NASUWT supported the ninth Safer Internet Day on 7 February 2012.
Safer Internet Day is celebrated worldwide and this year is an opportunity to encourage users young and old to "discover the digital world together safely". An inspirational array of activity took place nationwide, coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre (www.saferinternet.org.uk), with all activities focusing attention on empowering all generations to safely benefit from the opportunities that the internet offers.
The NASUWT is working closely with the UK Safer Internet Centre to promote the day.
The ETUCE Cyber Harassment project is a one-year European Commission funded project which aims to further implement the European Social Partners’ Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at work through its member organisations. The project aims to raise awareness of cyber-harassment in schools and the impact of this on the health and working conditions of teachers.
The NASUWT was nominated by the ETUCE to represent the UK on the Steering Group and guide and monitor the development of the project as national ‘experts’. The National Official (Equality and Training) has represented the Union, as the General Secretary’s nominee, on the ETUCE Cyber Harassment Steering Group. Other trade union representatives on the Steering group are from Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Spain.
The project has been running for over twelve months and is near completion. Activities for the ETUCE Cyber Harassment project include two surveys of EU trade unions identifying the nature and extent of cyber harassment from the perspective of teacher trade unions. It also involved a seminar in Brussels and a closing conference in Bratislava during 2010 at which the NASUWT provided good practice examples of tackling cyber harassment in schools.
Through the work of the Steering Group, the Union has emphasised the need for teacher unions to raise awareness and develop strategies for tackling cyber harassment as a legitimate workplace health and safety issue. A working definition of cyber harassment has been developed which includes prejudice-related harassment. Good practice guidance on tackling cyber harassment has been developed by the Steering group and will be disseminated to EU trade union member organisations.
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The NASUWT is campaigning for:
- a review of regulatory and legislative provisions to prevent allegations being made about named teachers on Internet sites and to secure more accessible avenues of redress for those who are exposed to public ridicule and false allegations;
- more effective school policies which promote zero tolerance of cyber-bullying;
- mobile phones to be treated as potentially offensive weapons and pupils’ access to them restricted during school sessions;
- school policies which encourage or require teachers to provide individual mobile phone or e-mail contact details to pupils to be outlawed;
- heightened awareness of the need to be cautious when using social networking sites as the contents are being scanned by employers and hijacked by pupils;
- the inclusion of reference to the use and abuse of technology in the Health and Safety Executive’s health and safety good practice guidance and in all workplace health and safety audits, including risk assessments.
Social networking sites
The Union presented evidence to Ministers of the trauma and distress being caused to teachers and headteachers by pupils using websites such as BeBo, Youtube and Ratemyteacher.
In a recent survey, almost 100 teachers took the opportunity to report incidents which had happened to them and their colleagues.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
"The Union has been raising with Ministers for some time our deep concerns about these websites.
"The evidence we have provided demonstrates that they are causing teachers untold distress and trauma.
"They not only extend the opportunities for pupils to humiliate teachers by providing the facility for them to post insulting comments and jibes, they actively encourage such abuse of school staff.
"The pupils who do this are afforded anonymity. The teachers are named, exposed to ridicule and subjected to false and malicious allegations.
"Teachers' self-esteem and sometimes their health is seriously affected.
"Publicly available, derogatory remarks about a teacher's practice can damage career progression if those advertising jobs decide to trawl these sites.
"Many aspects of technology and the Internet are extremely useful and bring benefits. However, these sites serve no useful purpose.
"Regulation of the Internet is virtually impossible and therefore the Government must press for improved access to redress for victims."