Teachers are facing death threats, abuse and allegations of serious crimes by pupils and parents through social networking sites, a poll suggests.

Online abuse of teachers is widespread, with more than two-fifths (42%) of those questioned saying they had been a victim of it, a survey by the NASUWT teaching union has found.

Of those, more than three-fifths (61.2%) said a pupil had written an insulting comment about them on a social networking or internet site, while more than a third (38.1%) said a student had made comments about their competence or performance as a teacher. And nearly one in 10 (9.1%) said they had faced allegations that they behaved inappropriately with pupils.

One teacher told the survey that a student had posted that they were going to “slit my throat”, while a second said a pupil had written “my English teacher should actually die” . And around 16% of those surveyed said that they had had a comment posted about them by a parent in the past two years. Of these, more than half (52.7%) said they had faced insulting comments, 47.7% said there had been comments about their performance, and 13.3% said there had been allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards students. The poll of 1,522 UK teachers earlier this month reveals that nearly two-thirds (64.1%) of those questioned said they had reported an incident of online abuse, with teachers most likely to tell their school’s headteacher or principal.

Of those who did tell someone about online abuse, just a third (32.2%) said they thought the pupil had been disciplined appropriately and they felt supported. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “There are no adequate procedures in place, locally or nationally, to protect teachers. It is clear that some employers are seriously failing in their duty of care by neither having appropriate policies in place nor taking incidents seriously when reported.”                 –BT