The Big Question: How should teacher cyberbullying be tackled in schools?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: Is teacher cyberbullying being effectively tackled in schools?

A survey conducted last month by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and Teacher Support Network found that one in seven respondents had experienced cyberbullying. Almost one in five said they knew of colleagues who had become victims.

Of the respondents who had suffered cyberbullying, 63 per cent said they had received unwelcome emails. Over a quarter had had offensive messages posted about them on social networking sites such as Facebook and 28 per cent described being sent unwelcome text messages.

The effect of cyberbullying on its victims was also laid bare, with 39 per cent saying it reduced their confidence and self-esteem, 25 per cent saying it reduced their effectiveness as a teacher and 6 per cent saying they were forced to take sick leave because of resulting illness or stress.

The results also suggested school policies need to be significantly improved, as 62 per cent said that either their school didn’t have a policy to address cyberbullying or they were unaware of one. 60 per cent said they had never received advice from their school about protecting themselves online.

New guidance produced jointly by the department for children, schools and families with Teacher Support Network aims to help schools to deal with the issue.
(Source: Teacher support network)

“Cyberbullying is an issue which we must all be aware of. At our school, we have involved the school council to re write all anti bullying policies to include cyberbullying. Assemblies have taken place raising student awareness of how we will deal with any cyberbullying issues. We have also worked closely with our local police liaison officer to educate both parents and staff so that they are aware of all of the new technologies and potential dangers.”
Nicky Dodgson, secondary school teacher

“I worked in a primary school where the use of email became a method to harass staff. The headteacher used to send emails at all times, including evenings and weekends and she would expect an immediate response. Needless to say, work life balance did not exist for me.”
Lucy Patel, primary school teacher

“I’m not sure if a school policy will be sufficient to deal with this issue. Determined cyberbullies could use pcs in internet cafes to ensure anonymity.”
Monique Rose, secondary school teacher