We hear a lot about kids bullying and cyberbullying kids, we hear plenty of stories about adults harassing and stalking others online, but what we hear less about is the cyberbullying teachers are subjected to at the hands of their students – and the student’s parents.
More than a third of teachers in the U.K. have been abused online. Most of the abuse (72%) came from students, but over a quarter (26%) came from parents according to a new study from Plymouth University in England conducted by professor Andy Pippen.
“Everyone acknowledges this is a problem and something needs to be done about it, but schools lack support. It is a sticky area as some of the things posted may not be considered illegal,” Pippen told the Huffington Post UK.
While teachers have always been targets of abuse – cars damaged, homes trashed, graffiti slurs, and threats – the internet’s anonymity appears to have given bullies – particularly parent bullies – the opportunity to scale to a new level of viciousness.
Showing typical gender role bias, 60% of the teachers who reported being bullied are women. The abuse is manifest through several online mediums like chat and social networks, but cyberbullies are also creating Facebook groups specifically targeting certain teachers, posting videos on YouTube, and leveraging the ever nasty ratemyteacher.com site.
“It seems to a subset of the [parent] population the teacher is no longer viewed as someone who should be supported in developing their child’s education, but a person whom it is acceptable to abuse if they dislike what is happening in the classroom,” said Phippen.
While this report is out of the U.K. and not the U.S., it would be naïve to assume that teachers here and around the world aren’t facing the same issues.
Perhaps as schools put together the final pieces of their back-to-school materials for this school year they should add a section to their student cyberbullying policy that specifically outlines expectations for parents. If the parents are cyberbullies, it will be awfully hard to get their kids to behave better.