Teachers targeted by pupils using social media, says SSTA chief

Female teachers are particularly vulnerable
  • John E Dunn (Computerworld UK)
  • — 03 January, 2013 08:08

Misbehaving pupils are getting away with using social media to anonymously target school teachers with abuse, threats and ridicule, Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) president Margaret Smith has said.

In a strongly worded analysis, Smith noted that the problem of teachers being targeted using such technologies ran across the social spectrum and could affect even teachers working in "leafy suburb" schools.

Female teachers were a particular target, and could find themselves on the receiving end of personal comments that would be considered sexual harassment in any other walk of life.

"Social media networks, mobile phones and other technologies to which pupils have access make it so much easier to make a teacher's life intolerable and his or her job impossible," said Smith.

"Too often nothing is done to combat this behaviour and pupils believe that their conduct is without consequence."

Anecdotal reports shared at educational conferences suggested the problem was not restricted to Scotland and had become an issue for teachers in other countries, she added.

Currently, there was a complacency about the issue among managers.

"It is a problem which will not go away and to which we cannot, as is too often the case, continue to turn a blind eye," said Smith.

With the companies that run social media sites refusing to act without a clear indication of legality, confusion has reigned in the UK about how free speech should be applied to such services.

Ironically, there are have been a slew of cases where individuals have been prosecuted and even arrested over social media comments later deigned to have been taken out of context or misconstrued, prompting the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer QC to issue new guidelines.

Meanwhile, individually threatening comments go unnoticed except by victims, many of whom are often unsure about the wisdom or procedure for making a complaint.

In the case of the targeting of teachers, the SSTA's argument is that such complaints should not be heaped on the individual teacher alone and should be taken up in serious cases by the school management using a pre-defined set of guidelines.

"I am totally convinced, however, that if we were to see a concerted approach to tackling indiscipline in our schools, much teacher stress would be alleviated, if not eliminated," said Smith.

Tags: security, public sector

Coding error protects some Android apps from Heartbleed

READ THIS ARTICLE
DO NOT SHOW THIS BOX AGAIN [ x ]
Comments are now closed.
CSO Corporate Partners
  • Webroot
  • Trend Micro
  • NetIQ
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to CSO, invitation only events, reports & analysis.
CSO Directory

Email Security and Data Protection

Encrypt your sensitive email

Latest Jobs
Security Awareness Tip

Incident handling is a vast topic, but here are a few tips for you to consider in your incident response. I hope you never have to use them, but the odds are at some point you will and I hope being ready saves you pain (or your job!).


  1. Have an incident response plan.

  2. Pre-define your incident response team 

  3. Define your approach: watch and learn or contain and recover.

  4. Pre-distribute call cards.

  5. Forensic and incident response data capture.

  6. Get your users on-side.

  7. Know how to report crimes and engage law enforcement. 

  8. Practice makes perfect.

For the full breakdown on this article

Security ABC Guides

Warning: Tips for secure mobile holiday shopping

I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.