Helpline: Cyberbullying from pupils poses threat to teachers’ mental wellbeing

31 October 2020, 00:04

Man using a laptop
Pupils bullying and harassing teachers online, school staff tell helpline. Picture: PA

UK Safer Internet Centre helpline fears school staff are at risk of burnout due to online harassment from pupils.

Cyberbullying and online harassment from pupils could have a “hugely detrimental” effect on school staff’s mental health, a support helpline has warned.

The UK Safer Internet Centre (UK SIC) helpline, designed to assist those working with children, said it has dealt with 844 unique cases in the last year, totalling 1895 contacts.

The majority of complaints (67%) came from teachers.

Almost half of the cases related to issues directly affecting professionals (47%). These largely concerned incidents of bullying and harassment perpetrated by students or reputational issues arising as a result of allegations, reviews or complaints made online.

UK SIC – which is a partnership between the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), Childnet and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) charities – is concerned that teaching professionals face burnout if not given the right support.

“One of the most notable findings of this report was the hugely detrimental impact that both of these issues had on professionals’ mental health,” said David Wright, director of UK SIC and SWGfL.

“Much thought has been rightly given to children during this difficult period. But we should not forget the incredibly important role of those struggling to support children at this time with very difficult and trying issues that are clearly impacting on their mental health.

“The findings of this report have significant implications in that they indicate the need to intervene upon abuse and stresses experienced by teaching professionals at the earliest stage possible.

Mr Wright added: “These professionals are at the forefront and, every day, are doing their best to protect children and keep children safe. But they need supporting too.

“Some of the issues they come up against are incredibly complex and, without proper support, I fear for the mental wellbeing of these vital professionals.

“Now more than ever, we are reliant, as a society, on the internet. It has been an absolute lifeline during the coronavirus lockdown and will continue to be as the world adapts to an uncertain future.

“We need to make sure our professionals working with young people know there is help out there and that they can reach out and get the support they need before it is too late.”

The helpline’s full annual report is due to be published in November.

By Press Association