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Pupils using social media to bully teachers

Many pupils are routinely using social media to abuse teachers online, a survey by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, has found.

Teachers have been issued with death threats, accused of crimes including pedophilia and rape, have been subject to sexist and racist abuse and have had their pictures distributed across the internet.

Of those responding to the survey, 42% said they had an insulting comment, allegation of inappropriate behaviour with a pupil, comment on their performance or other comment posted online or on a social networking site.

The vast majority (60%) of pupils engaged in cyber bullying of their teachers were between 11 and 16 years old, but some were primary school pupils.

Among the social networks used by pupils to comment about their teachers, 77% used Facebook, 21% used ratemyteachers.com. 6% used Twitter and 1% used MySpace.

And the survey found that although less of a problem, 16% of teachers said parents were also using social networking to post comments about teachers.

Although 64% of teachers reported the incidents many also felt they were not supported properly or the complaint was not taken seriously enough.

Almost half (46%) of those either felt that the sanction taken against the pupil was inadequate or reported that no action was taken at all. Only 32% felt the appropriate action was taken.

And almost half (49%) of those teachers who had comments by parents either did not feel supported or had no action taken. Only 29% felt that appropriate action was taken.

The majority of teachers (70%) either do not have or have not been aware of policies and procedures within school to protect them about such incidents.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Some of the findings in this survey are truly shocking. We have members who have been told they will be killed or have their throat slit.

“Others have been accused of crimes against pupils and inappropriate behaviour.

“This survey shows that a significant minority of our members are being abused by their pupils and that in too many cases the action taken does not reflect the seriousness of the abuse.

“There is also a worrying lack of adequate procedures to protect teachers from this sort of cyber bullying the first place.

“Head teachers and senior management must ensure they have proper procedures in place and that they take complaints about online abuse seriously.”

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