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What keeps me awake at night – parent trolls wasting my precious time

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I can often predict that a Monday morning will bring the usual deluge of safeguarding and behavioural matters, but now also increasingly social media is playing a much bigger role in the erosion of my time. Yet I’m not just seeing pupils getting involved in slanging matches, I’ve now got to deal with parents who seem to want to wade in on discussions, often fuelling the issue rather than calming it down.   

What’s happening? Is it the disguise and distance a person feels on social media that means they can make comments because the human person is not standing in front of them? It seems more and more parents are adopting a troll mentality.

Also there are two other issues I have. One is this swelling need for some adults to be their son/daughter’s best friend, resulting in them chipping in on conversations and thinking they are "down with the kids" somehow. I just wish they would concentrate on being a parent rather than being a "pal".

Secondly, why is it suddenly the school's place, and indeed mine, to be judge and jury on issues that are being stirred up after I have alarmed my school? I’m aware that friendship issues can spill in to my establishment, but when I’m confronted with screen shots from Snapchat and Facebook and a pointing finger saying, “Look what she wrote about me…it’s frigging disgusting”, I’m thinking, "What a waste of my precious time." Maybe it is time to take your complaints to Judge Rinder [star of ITV's reality court show] if you have an issue, and leave me to run my school.

So as I doze in the evening and try to find fluffy thoughts to help me sleep, visions of dribbling parents huddled around their daughter’s phone often enter my mind. I can see them with crinkled faces attempting to spell long words or come up with a wise put-down to send to the adolescent on the other end. I just wish they would go back downstairs and leave the child to work it out for themselves. 

Written by a headteacher in South-West England  

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