Exclusive: #humiliation - how more teachers are falling victim to pupils' cruel online 'pranks'

Fake blind dates and the distribution of compromising pictures are among the tactics being used by digitally savvy pupils to humiliate their teachers

Eleanor Busby

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A growing number of teachers are being targeted by pupils carrying out digital scams, Tes can reveal.

More and more teachers are facing online abuse and security violations at the hands of their own students, according to a leading online safety organisation.

Emma Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK, an organisation that runs school workshops on internet safety, said: “[It’s] a huge trend recently. I’d say in the last year [the number of enquiries involving teachers] has spiked.”

Around 30 per cent of the cases the organisation now comes across concern teachers who have been victimised online by digitally savvy pupils, Ms Robertson revealed, calling the figures "a shock".

“In the cases that have almost gone viral in the school, which everybody knows about, a lot of the time teachers will just be really upset and will come to us for one-to-one advice,” she said.

Embarrassing pictures

In one case, a pupil photographed a female teacher being stood up on a date and shared it across the school. She had turned up expecting to meet an attractive adult that she’d believed to been talking to on Tinder – but he never existed. The student had created fake accounts and set her up.

In another humiliating incident, a number of teachers were hit at the same time. A pupil had created a fake Facebook account for a female teacher who wasn’t actually on the social media site and sent out friend requests to as many of the teacher’s colleagues as they could find.

The pupil then trawled through Facebook to find their most compromising photos – all the way back to university parties and stag and hen dos – and printed them out before posting them around the school.

A snap poll conducted by Tes suggests that more than one in 10 teachers (13 per cent) have suffered online abuse or cyber bullying from their pupils.

And the problem is even worse according to a survey from the NASUWT teaching union, which found that almost a third of teachers had suffered online harassment and victimisation in the past year.

'A very traumatic experience'

The union’s poll in April of more than 1,500 teachers found that, in the majority of cases (60 per cent), pupils were the culprits of the abuse,

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Too many teachers are being subjected to appalling levels of online harassment and victimisation from pupils and also parents.

“This has to stop. Being a victim of online abuse can be a very traumatic experience, which can potentially ruin lives and careers.”

This is an edited version of an article appearing in the 2 June edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click hereTo download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click hereThis week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. 

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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