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CAUGHT IN THE NET; Teachers flee Ulster schools to escape pupil cyberbullies.

Byline: By CLAIRE O'BOYLE

DOZENS of teachers have fled Ulster schools to escape cyberbullying from pupils.

Websites set up for students to review their teachers allow kids to say whatever they like.

Their comments are not vetted and they don't need to give their name.

But the teacher's name is listed, as is their subject and the school and town they teach in.

Comments range from complementary and affectionate to completely cruel and offensive.

A teacher from Omagh, Co Tyrone, was targeted by 30 pupils.

One wrote: "She is a complete waste of perfectly good oxygen. The worst teacher you could have and as thick as two short planks. The sooner she retires the better."

Another message said: "She is the worst teacher ever. Doesn't have a clue what she's chatting about half the time. Yes, no, yes... Which one is it Mrs?"

Another teacher from Belfast was targeted by more than 20 children

One wrote: "Terrible, terrible woman. No idea how to teach or interact with pupils."

Pupils of a Derry teacher called him "a disaster" and "baffling" and one said "He's away now, thank God".

And students of another Belfast teacher said: "Hate the woman with a passion." Another added: "Absolute keek teacher. Not the sharpest tool in the box either."

Seamus Searson of teachers' union Nasuwt said: "We know some teachers have been so persecuted by websites like RateMyTeacher.co.uk, and others are even worse, they've left their jobs.

"They've been so hurt and embarrassed by things written about them, and then laughed at in class, that discipline breaks down and they can no longer work. Some have simply left that particular school, but others have given up teaching altogether.

"Teachers suffer as much from bullying as children. Just because they are adults does not make it any less hurtful. With children there can be one or two bullies, but for teachers they can feel 300 or 400 people are laughing at them every day. In the worse case scenarios we have had examples in England where teachers have committed suicide because of it.

"We will not tolerate any form of bullying. Not cyberbullying or physical bullying and not the bullying of children or teachers."

One in six teachers in the UK is thought to be the victim of malicious text messages and internet postings sent by their pupils.

Mr Searson added if internet providers agreed to tell teachers who posted hurtful comments, Nasuwt would tell them not to teach those kids any more.

The union has also called for the outright ban of mobile phones in schools.

Mr Searson said: "In the past a teacher and pupil could have a bit of an argument and that would be it.

"But now the kids are taking pictures of teachers, distorting them and posting them on websites and sending them around the school yard in texts.

"This is a total assault on teachers."

Nasuwt has now called on schools to provide better support for teachers.

The claims of internet attacks comes as the Government launched an online cyberbullying campaign yesterday and provided new guidelines for schools on how to tackle the new issues.

It includes advice on how to stop cyberbullying like not replying to nasty texts or emails, saving the evidence, reporting any incidents, keeping passwords safe and not handing mobile phone numbers on the internet.

ulster@mirror.co.uk

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2007
Words:569
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