Commenting on Safer Internet Day 2014, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The growth of the internet and social media has provided schools, teachers and young people with fantastic opportunities to communicate, expand their knowledge and share their ideas globally.
“It has also conferred new responsibilities on us all.
“Safer Internet Day provides the opportunity to highlight not only the positive benefits of the internet, but also the potential for abuse of technology.
“It is of deep concern that too many children and young people are having their health, welfare and lives blighted by internet and social media abuse.
“NASUWT research has highlighted the frightening scale of cyberbullying and online abuse to which teachers and pupils are being subjected
“42% of teachers have had insults, allegations of inappropriate behaviour with pupils, comments on their capability or other abusive comments posted about them by either pupils or parents online or on a social networking site.
“Children and young people are also vulnerable, with research suggesting nearly four in ten have experienced cyberbullying.
“Teachers deal with the appalling fallout of this abuse on a regular basis as it can seriously adversely affect pupils’ wellbeing and physical and mental health.
“Technology has become a regular tool of the bully. The bullies can torment the victims anonymously and from the comfort of their own homes while the victims can find no refuge in theirs.
“Technology is not the problem; it is the abuse and misuse of technology which needs to be tackled.
“The NASUWT is continuing to campaign for improved safeguards in schools to protect pupils and staff."
Notes to editors
The NASUWT offers training and advice to members on the safe use of social media and the internet. It has also led the campaign to highlight the problem of cyberbullying and its impact on teachers and young people.
The NASUWT is campaigning for:
a review of regulatory and legislative provisions to prevent allegations being made about named teachers on Internet sites and to secure more accessible avenues of redress for those who are exposed to public ridicule and false allegations; more effective school policies which promote zero tolerance of cyber-bullying; mobile phones to be treated as potentially offensive weapons and pupils’ access to them restricted during school sessions; school policies which encourage or require teachers to provide individual mobile phone or e-mail contact details to pupils to be outlawed; heightened awareness of the need to be cautious when using social networking sites as the contents are being scanned by employers and hijacked by pupils; the inclusion of reference to the use and abuse of technology in the Health and Safety Executive’s health and safety good practice guidance and in all workplace health and safety audits, including risk assessments.
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