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Social media companies are evading responsibility by failing to implement sufficient measures to prevent the online abuse of teachers on their platforms.

During Anti-Bullying week, the NASUWT is calling for Governments to take stronger action to protect for teachers from being targeted by online abuse.

It’s estimated that on average, people in the UK spend 110 minutes a day using online social media platforms. The rapid rise in social media usage has brought new challenges in the classroom with teachers reporting that online abuse, harassment and bullying, including racist, sexist, homophobic  and other derogatory comments posted anonymously online have become an epidemic. This is affecting staff as well as pupils.

The NASUWT is clear that urgent measures must be taken by Governments to better regulate social media companies and to protect teachers from online abuse.

TikTok, a prominent video sharing app, is currently the most popular app amongst 4–15-year-olds, with children spending, on average, 75 minutes per day on the social media platform. The app is also the host of a new and alarming online trend, “School Slander”, which invites young people to create fake school accounts and post images of teachers alongside defamatory and malicious allegations. It’s ruining lives and creating misery for those who are victims of such actions.

Although TikTok videos are typically under a minute in length, the personal and professional impact on teachers who are victims of “School Slander” can endure a lifetime. The damage to professional reputations and repercussions for teachers’ mental health and wellbeing are serious and far reaching, warranting urgent action from government and social media companies.

The NASUWT will not stand by as this abhorrent trend goes viral, reaping havoc on teachers professional and personal lives. Social media companies are evading responsibility by failing to implement sufficient measures to prevent online abuse on their platforms. This week, Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, has written to UK education ministers urging them to hold social media companies to account and mandate that robust measures are taken to protect teachers from online harms.

Schools and colleges also have a role to play, including ensuring that their behaviour policies are up to date and applied robustly, seeking the support of parents to communicate the school/college behaviour expectations and to carry out risk assessments to protect staff from online abuse. School and college employers have a statutory duty of care for the health, safety and welfare of school/college staff and will need to demonstrate that they are taking reasonable steps to support teachers who experience online harassment and abuse.

No teacher should be left at risk of abuse from pupils or parents – whether online or offline. Harassment, bullying and abuse can never be tolerated as “part of the job”. The NASUWT has published advice for members to protect their safety at work including safety from online abuse.

One Kind Word can make a world of difference. But tackling bullying and online abuse of teachers also demands positive action as well as kind words to ensure no teacher or pupil lives in fear of abuse or bullying.

Learn more about Anti-Bullying Week and how to get involved


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