Students use mobile tech to make teachers' lives 'intolerable'

According to Scottish union leaders, students are frequently using social media to make teachers' lives a misery.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
student use technology mobile social network twitter facebook target teachers abuse

According to Scottish teacher union representatives, students are frequently using social media and mobile technology to make teachers' lives miserable.

ThePress Associationreports that union leaders in Scotland, representing the country's secondary school teachers, have complained that nothing is being done to tackle the use of social networking and mobile technology to harass or attack teachers.

Abuse focused at education professionals can be conducted through social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook, whether it be via a status update, doctored photo, or insulting commentary. According to Margaret Smith, president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, the use of technology in this manner is a "sinister development" which needs to be tackled head-on.

"Too often nothing is done to combat this behaviour and pupils believe that their conduct is without consequence," Smith said. "A sinister development over the past decade or so has been the co-ordinated targeting of some teachers. 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."

The president of the association also said that teachers are often subject to "verbal abuse, threats and ridicule," as well as female members of staff required to endure comments relating to them personally that would in other circumstances be considered sexual harassment.

Accusing the Scottish government of inaction and complacency over student discipline, Smith said that as part of the educational system's duty of care towards students, the issue of indiscipline -- a problem for Europe rather than simply in Scotland -- has to be tackled before things get out of hand.

According to the union representative, teaching stress levels are at an "all-time high," but combating poor behavior -- both inside the classroom and digitally -- will help the situation, one in which fewer graduates are entering the teaching profession, or often leave after several years.

A Scottish Government spokesman told the news agency:

"The vast majority of pupils in our schools are well behaved and a credit to Scotland. However, any incident is one too many, and we are working across the sector to improve behaviour in schools. Independent research shows that behaviour, including serious indiscipline and violence, has improved since 2006."

Research reports have suggested that cyberbullying rates increased in line with the explosion of mobile technology, and it is not only teenagers who have to face the consequences. However, perhaps it's no surprise that students are now using social media and mobiles in this way -- as adults often leave their manners in the physical world and abuse others online, hidden under a supposed cloak of anonymity.

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