Cyberbullying and online harassment from pupils could have a “hugely detrimental” effect on school staff's mental health, a support helpline has warned, revealing that more than two-thirds of complaints it has handled over the last year came from teachers.
The UK Safer Internet Centre, said it has dealt with 844 unique cases in the last year, totalling 1895 contacts.
The majority of complaints (67 per cent) came from teachers.
Almost half of the cases related to issues directly affecting professionals (47 per cent). 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.