Parents could face prosecution for online abuse

NUT spokesman Sam Ud-din.
NUT spokesman Sam Ud-din.

Parents making negative comments on social media about their children’s teachers could face prosecution, a teacher’s union member has warned.

The message comes as a new survey reveals children as young as seven are posting abusive comments and making threats against teachers on websites.

The survey, by the NASUWT teaching union, suggests pupils and parents are using these networks to insult school staff, make allegations of inappropriate behaviour and to comment on performance in the classroom.

And many teachers are afraid to report online abuse, often because they do not think anything could be done, or do not think it would be taken seriously.

Sam Ud-din, Lancashire NUT spokesman, said: “Our members in Lancashire have not yet reported incidents involving pupils, but we have had a few where parents have used Facebook to make negative comments about particular staff at schools.

“We have and are supporting those members and made it clear to school and county managements, who have been very supportive, that they have a duty of care to all their employees to protect them from harassment. We also stand by ready to defend our members in court against slanderous comments at the school gate or libellous ones in print in any type of social media.”

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said that while they initially leave it up to individual schools to deal with the issue, support is available from them if required, including legal advice.

The poll found that 21 per cent of those surveyed said negative comments had been posted about them online.

Of these, 64 per cent said the comments had been made by pupils, 27 per cent said they had been posted by parents and the rest said the comments had been made by both pupils and parents.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said:“Teachers are often devastated by the vile nature of the abuse.”