Report: Teachers Also a Target of Cyber Bullying

Dennis Faas's picture

There have been numerous reports of children being bullied by classmates through online services. But now it appears that teachers are suffering similar treatment.

New research by Professor Andy Phippen of Plymouth University in the United Kingdom found that 35 per cent of those questioned had suffered online abuse -- most notably in the form of online verbal attacks (also known as "cyber bullying").

Though the research noted that 60 per cent of the victims were female, around 70 per cent of all teachers are women, meaning the figures show men were slightly more likely to be targeted.

One of the more surprising findings of the research was that while 72 per cent of online abuse came from pupils, 26 per cent of incidents involved parents. In one case, a campaign of abuse against a headmaster (principal) lasted an entire year and reportedly drove him to the brink of suicide. (Source:

Facebook Promises Action

The abuse took a wide range of forms. The most obvious was social networking sites such as Facebook where some users had set up groups just to verbally attack teachers.

Facebook told the BBC that in some ways social networking could help tackle bullying. It argued that comments made on the site were often no different than those made in the real world but that unlike with face-to-face gossip, it's relatively easy to report online abuse and track down the offenders.

Facebook vowed to take down any sites that violated its policies within 24 hours of receiving a complaint. (Source:

YouTube, Rate My Teacher Also Abused

The definition of online abuse was quite wide. It took in pupils posting videos of teachers on sites such as YouTube, as well as pupils leaving negative comments on anonymous "review" site Rate My Teacher. The report claimed the site had refused to remove abusive comments, some of which were untrue and defamatory.

There are some limitations to the research, however.

The sample size was 300, meaning there's potential for a significant margin of error. The research was also a combination of an online survey and personal interviews, meaning it's possible that the sample group was not representative. For example, bullying victims may have been more likely to respond because they wanted to speak out.

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