Cyber-bullying has created a number of challenges for teachers in schools where a growing number of students have access to their own computers and smartphones. What’s become an increasing concern however, is that teachers are now the targets.
A new study from Plymouth University in England found that more than a third of teachers have been abused online. Most of the abuse (72%) came from students, but over a quarter (26%) came from parents.
“This parental abuse is something we haven’t come across before,” said Prof Andy Phippen, the author of the report.
A total of 35% of teachers said that they had been victims of online bullying — 60% of which were women.
Most of the abuse comes through chat on social networks, but there are many people setting up Facebook groups to target certain teachers. There are also cases of videos being posted on YouTube and reatemyteacher.com has always been a popular venue for abuse.
After being the victim of cyber abuse from a parent using social media sites, one headmistress suffered a breakdown and was left feeling suicidal.
Another teacher was treated for depression and suicidal thoughts after a social media-induced questioning from police.
In response to an abusive blog, run by a parent at the school, the site was regarded as “the extension of the school gate.” The parent who ran it “did not see much wrong with what he was doing”, Prof Andrew Phippen said.
According to one teacher, “we just have to live with it.”