To friend, or not to friend

There has been a lot of focus in recent years on the development of bullying on new platforms – Facebook, emails and the like, are all being used to get to pupils.  Whether it means the bullying is more anonymous, spiteful or intrusive, students subjected to such treatment by their peers now cannot even escape when they are in the safety of their home.

However, now teachers are also being targeted.  ‘Groups’ are set up on social media sites abusing staff, and it can be difficult to obtain recourse against the pupils responsible through employment, discrimination or defamation law, leaving staff feeling vulnerable.  Anti-bullying policies in school should therefore cover the protection of staff as well as pupils. 

Online campaigns are not the only dangers for staff though.  Teachers should be warned not to accept ‘friend’ requests from students on social media sites.  Boundaries between a teacher’s professional and private life can become blurred when holiday photographs or negative status updates are posted for all to see.  Not only are students checking up on their teachers’ profiles, but parents have also begun to investigate the background of the people who are looking after their children.  It is probably unnecessary to try to ban staff from keeping Facebook accounts, for example, but a sensible approach would involve not accepting invitations from pupils and checking your privacy settings to allow only ‘friends’ to see all that is posted.


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