London: The United Kingdom’s National Association of Head Teachers has said social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter pose a “devastating” threat to schools and are a “bigger fear than the school inspectorate Office for Standards in Education, Children`s Services and Skills (Ofsted).
The statement follows a University of Plymouth report that showed that British parents are increasingly bullying teachers on Facebook and Twitter in what they described a "fair game for abuse".
The study on the cyber-bullying of teachers, conducted by Professor Andrew Phippen, included interviews with a headmistress who suffered a breakdown after facing a year-long cyber abuse from a parent using social media sites.
Another teacher suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts after being cyber- abused.
“Facebook is becoming a bigger fear for schools than Ofsted. Increasingly, social media are being used to fuel campaigns against schools and teachers. Twenty per cent of our members have received threats or abuse online – parents or ex-pupils being the most common source. The results can be devastating”, the Telegraph quoted National Association of Head Teachers General Secretary Rusell Hobby, as saying.
According to Hobby, a key problem with online abuse was that there is no standard procedure to tackle lies or misinformation.
“There is no ‘due process’, no right of reply, no appeal and no requirement for evidence,” he said.
“Frequently the campaigns are based on false allegations or innuendo and are joined by people with little or no contact with the school – and we’ve seen how social media and the mob mentality can be combined in the recent riots in British cities ”, he added
He advised teachers to call the police on being constantly threatened with cyber abuses or to ask service providers to remove inappropriate online material. According to him, seeking legal action to counter cyber threats was seldom effective for teachers.