Harassment and bullying for school staff at work is totally unacceptable and requires immediate, firm action by employers, employees, and trade unions.
It can result in difficult working conditions, undermine health and safety, and produce feelings of isolation, despair and even fear. In extreme circumstances, it can lead to school staff leaving a workplace or even leaving the profession altogether.
Bullying of school staff can take place by senior management, colleagues, governors, parents and even pupils and in some cases, the bullying may overlap.
According to the NUC, some forms of bullying and harassment are perceived by staff to be difficult to challenge and harder to report because of the acceptance of some forms of bullying behaviour as ‘normal’, such as sexual harassment of female staff by pupils. For example, women teachers commonly report that they are encouraged to ignore sexist language and the sexist or sexual content of language between pupils or directed at them because “boys will be boys” or because “it’s a joke”. This is totally unacceptable, and all forms of harassment and bullying behaviour needs to be reported and dealt with immediately.
For some school staff, pupils have also targeted their teachers and other teaching professionals online, creating online posts that ridicule, harass, or otherwise bully staff on social media sites, such as TikTok and Instagram.
In a recent report by Ineqe, ‘The nature of these posts includes photographs of staff taken by students using their mobile phones or harvested from the personal social media profiles of staff. Some include defamatory comments and serious allegations about the staff members, others include videos that mock or criticise them, and some expose personal information.
It is worthy of note that posts in some cases reflect online sexual harassment, through the usage of sexualised commentary and inappropriate/illegal photography, such as ‘upskirting’ photos.
Posts such as these may be seen by the student as a ‘joke’ or ‘prank’, but the consequences. For those who are harassed or bullied, the high levels of stress and anxiety actions like this can cause, may lead to long term mental health issues and for the perpetrator, posts that contain criminal content could result in legal action and negatively impact on their education and future life choices.
For School Staff experiencing harassment and bullying online:
You should consider reporting to Police when:
Even if members of School Staff have not been affected by online bullying and harassment, it is important that all schools take action by:
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