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Teachers left blubbing by cyber abuse

Forum posts devastate beak's self-image

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Cyber bullying has been perceived for some time as a growing problem in British classrooms. An increasingly tech-savvy yoof generation are using the web to ridicule and harass their hapless victims. Self-esteem is being crushed, once confident personalities left tearful in the lavs. The human cost is high.

But it's no use the sufferers taking their problems to the teacher. They are the teachers, according to the BBC. And they aren't happy.

At the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) conference, currently underway in Bournemouth, stressed-out beaks are giving vent to their feelings.

"I've had teachers on the phone to me in tears," said front-line educator Andy Brown. He told conference delegates that he'd checked the RateMyTeachers website and found "two negative, hurtful comments about my teaching ability and me as a person". He told the Beeb that the comments "rankled".

El Reg naturally had to check this out. Mr Brown's pupils have, in fact, occasionally had some harsh words to say about him. "Very arrogant", for instance, and somewhat perplexingly, "might as well be a PE teacher...more life in a corpse".

But these posters were very much in the minority. Most of Mr Brown's students worship the very ground on which he treads. "I love him," said one. "The department would be nothing without him," according to another. "Witty, intelligent, inspiring, encouraging, kind and creative, to be taught by Mr B is to be an extremely lucky pupil." And on it went, reams of almost stomach-churningly sycophantic praise.

Mr Brown is evidently of noble blood if such tiny peas under so many big fluffy mattresses can still cause him discomfort.

But the teachers insist there are more serious problems than these. The ATL quoted a survey which found that 45 per cent of teachers had received an "attack by email" and 15 per cent had received threatening texts. Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, called on the government to take "all reasonable steps" to protect teachers from the tide of electronic abuse.

"Teachers now have stronger legal powers to deal with cyber pests," a government spokesman said. "They can now confiscate mobile phones which are being used in a malicious or disruptive way. We encourage them to make full use of this power."

So there you have it. It could be that the kids are totally out of control. Alternatively, just possibly, some in the teaching profession are a little too sensitive to survive in a modern cyber landscape where civilised behaviour is usually inversely related to anonymity. ®

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