A new survey conducted from the largest teachers’ union in the United Kingdom, the National Association of Schoolmaster Union of Women Teachers, displays results that teachers, not only students, are affected by cyberbullying.
The organization reported that approximately one in four teachers said they were affected by cyberbullying and 42 percent of teachers experienced being insulted or harassed by students online. The study concluded that about 60 percent of the bullies were between 11 and 16 years old.
Social networking services dominated ways in which students used to cyberbully their teachers, with 77 percent using Facebook, 6 percent Twitter, and 1 percent MySpace. Another website, ratemyteachers.com, was also widely used by the students, at 22 percent.
However, it should be noted that this phenomena is not unique to the United Kingdom, but also plagues schools in the United States and Canada.
In 2012, California Teachers Association cited a 2006 study by National School Boards Association which reported that 26% of teachers and principles in the US have been victims of cyberbullying by students. In another case, American Psychological Association conducted a study in 2011 which found that 57 percent of the 3,000 k-12 teachers felt victimized by their students.
More recently, there have been few high-profile incidents of teachers being targeted by students. Back in 2013, NPR reported a story of Chip Douglas, a former high school teacher from North Carolina who resigned after students in his tenth grade English class created a parody Twitter account in his name. “It was awful,” he said. “It had this image of me as this drug addict, violent person, supersexual, that I wouldn’t want to portray.”
In another case just two weeks ago, Alberta Human Rights Commission heard a complaint from Vienna Malko-Monterrosa, a teacher who was cyberbullied by middle school students over an 18-month period. She was called an “illegal immigrant,” “an insult to the human race” and told that “it would be better if you died” by a student.
These different surveys and individual cases highlight the important fact that teachers can be and are victims of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, most of the media shines lights on cyberbullying among students, and many resources available online for educating students about cyberbullying are usually for student to student interaction, leaving teachers out of the picture.
In addition, while many states have pushed legislation for cyberbullying protection recently, only North Carolina has a law that explicitly protects school staff from cyberbullying by students. As legislation imposing criminal punishment for minors is controversial even for cyberbullying among students, perhaps the best way to deal with this growing problem is through education.