Alarmingly, more and more teachers are reporting that they are being targeted online by students.
Commonly its a Facebook or Instagram account set up in the teacher’s name, which is then used to post out embarrassing updates or photoshopped images distorted, to humiliate or embarrass the teacher. If the teacher eventually finds out about the fake account, it might take some time to have it taken down, and often the details of the account and posts sent out by the imposter will have already been copied to pass around after the account has been removed. Once a fake teacher account has been set up it can be very difficult to ensure the content is entirely removed from the internet.
Other ways I have heard of that teachers have been targeted online have been, being invited to a Facebook group that has unsuitable content within it, or being tagged on social media photos and posts that have unseemly content. Sometimes it is just abusive posts directed at teachers that appear on social networks on students or parents’ accounts.
Teachers’ accounts have also been accessed when digital devices/phones have been left unprotected, or hacking has occurred of teacher profiles by students.
For years, some teachers have had profiles set up on Teacher review sites, that were set up for students to “review” Teachers performances but sometimes used to defame or bully teachers.
With so many schools now including BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs for younger students the risks of being targeted by a student is much higher. This is due to more students having their own devices, which, when taken home may not be adequately supervised by parents.
Recent research by a UK Teachers union NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK found:
“More than one in five teachers have had comments or information posted on social networks about them by pupils or parents related to their role as a teacher. “
Examples of the type of cyber bullying online included:
“A Facebook page was set up by a pupil who claimed he wanted to kill me – he invited others in the class to join.”
“I had comments from a parent saying I was a nasty teacher and telling me to go ‘home’ (I am not a UK citizen).”
“Comments made about my appearance and most recently about going off on maternity leave and “not caring about the classes I’ve left behind” and claims that “my son will fail now because of you.”
“A pupil posted on Rate My Teacher that my skin was covered in potholes.”
What Can Schools Do?
- Ensure your staff are educated to protect their online privacy and digital devices
- Devise a social media online behaviour policy for both students and parents about contacting teachers via social media or other online platforms – update it yearly
- Have a school social media/online platform policy for all teaching staff
- Make sure teachers know how to search for mentions of their name online
- Educate your staff on safe social media use
- Make sure your staff are aware of dangerous apps and platforms and what the traps are
- Educate your staff about online security, scams and passwords
- Make sure you have parent support and cyber safety education for parents
It is essential that all teaching staff are kept up to date with the latest issues around online safety. Teachers have different issues to students and parents, they need specialized cyber safety education from a professional cyber safety expert.
Leonie Smith The Cyber Safety Lady is available for professional development seminars and workshops to help your teaching staff protect their online reputations and their online security.
Find out more about The Cyber Safety Ladies’ Teacher Education Workshops and Cyber Safety Talks Here: