A growing number of teachers are complaining about being abused on social media — by parents.
According to a recent study by the British teaching union NASUWT, parents are posting comments to Facebook that describe their children’s teachers in sexist, racist, and homophobic terms, including falsely accusing them of having or wanting to have sex with students and/or mocking them for their appearance and competence. This is in addition to the more predictable comments made by students.
60% of the 1,500 teachers who responded to the survey reported that abusive comments had been posted about them by students and their parents up from only 21% in 2014. 40% of this is from parents, while in 2014 parents posted only 27% of these inappropriate comments.
Sarah Cassidy of The Independent reports that one teacher said:
I asked the headteacher to put a note in the school newsletter as there has been more than one case of this but she refused and told me that it is OK for parents to write horrible things about me on Facebook.
The school head said he didn’t want to get involved with it any further as it could lead to ruining the school’s reputation.
Many teachers reported having fake profiles made in their names, writes Kaye Wiggins of TesConnect, and one teacher said “sexually inappropriate conversations were posted by someone pretending to be me.”
Little was done when the teachers reported the comments to their employer, the social network, or the police, writes Beatrice Credi of Welfare Society Territory.
This problem contributes to increasing pressure on teachers, inspiring 40% to quit within their first year when there is already a concerning shortage of teachers in valuable subjects like math and foreign language.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said:
It is deeply worrying to see that the abuse of teachers has risen by such a huge margin this year.
Equally concerning is that it appears that more parents are the perpetrators of the abuse. The vile, insulting, and personal comments are taking their toll on teachers’ health and well-being and undermining their confidence to do their job.
Many teachers tell us they suspect they are being abused online but dare not look, for fear they could never walk into their school again to have to face their abusers.
The Guardian reports that in Keates’ view, the government needs to take the issue more seriously and address the issue of teachers being abused.