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And We Wonder Where a Bully Comes From…

This article pretty much speaks for itself.  And until bullying programs and school policies (I mentioned this in a post from earlier this week) address the parental element that is virtually always present in bullying cases (i.e. parents encourage it, are abusive, have no idea what is going on w/their child, etc.), no program will be truly effective in combating the problem.  Education, in all forms, begins at home.

Now PARENTS use websites to abuse teachers: Guidelines issued to combat online bullying

By Catherine Eade

Parents are inceasingly using social networking sites to bully and undermine teachers as well as pupils, new research shows.

With an increasing number of teachers reporting online abuse, the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) says that members should be prepared to take action if parents have made potentially libellous comments on websites.

The NAHT says it receives hundreds of calls every week from teachers who are being ‘cyberbullied’ – and the majority of complaints are about parents using the web to criticise teachers or heads.

Cyber bullying: An increasing number of teachers are reporting online abuse from parents as well as pupils
Depressed teacher at computer

Cyber bullying: An increasing number of teachers are reporting online abuse from parents as well as pupils (posed by models)

In 2009, research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the Teacher Support Network suggested 15% of teachers had experienced cyberbullying, and it is believed this figure is growing.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby says: ‘Parents have a right to express their views and complaints should be heard. Schools can only benefit from constructive feedback.

‘Too often, though, social networking sites are a medium for the unreasonable and the unprincipled, and have a momentum out of all proportion to reality.’

The NAHT has now updated its guidance for teachers who think they are being bullied by pupils or parents.

It tells them how to contact various websites if they have been targeted and gives tips on how teachers should manage personal accounts.

It also urges headteachers to have clear rules about social networking sites.
Facebook is one of the sites where parents are known to have posted comments.

One parent who didn’t want to be named admitted she used her Facebook page to write about the behaviour policy at her childrens’ school, having repeatedly failed to get an appointment with the headmistress about her son being bullied.

She took out her frustrations on her Facebook page until the school warned her of legal action if her comments became libellous.

A spokesman from Facebook said: ‘These online discussions are simply a reflection of what is happening offline. Facebook has worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content.’

Facebook says it disables any accounts that are found to breach its rules on bullying and harrassment by intimidating others.

One English teacher in the West Midlands told the ATL: ‘I found teaching stressful already but when it got to the point where I was getting home and finding messages about me on social networking sites, or horrible photos on my computer I couldn’t cope.’

The ATL says that one teacher had a fake Facebook account set up in his name containing false sexual allegations.

Another teacher suffered stress after a video of her teaching appeared on YouTube.

The 2009 ATL research showed that 63% of teachers who had suffered cyberbullying personally said they had received unwelcome emails. Over a quarter had had offensive messages posted about them on social networking sites such as Facebook and 28% described being sent unwelcome text messages.

A 24-hour counselling helpline called Teacherline set up in October 1999 for stressed teachers in England and Wales now receives thousands of calls a month.

Teacherline reports that teachers are four times more likely to experience stress at work than employees in other professions.

Teacher Support Network is another organisation which says it has seen a marked increase in calls and emails from teachers who have experienced online abuse.

More than a third of teachers who have reported cyber bullying say it has reduced their confidence and self-esteem.
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