ONE IN TEN teachers in Ireland have been a victim of cyberbullying – and most of it has been carried out by their own pupils, according to a new study.
Research carried out by DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) found that almost 10% of teachers who participated in a study were the victims of online bullying and almost 15% were aware of a colleague experiencing cyberbullying in the last year.
The research surveyed 577 post-primary school teachers on the issue of cyberbullying which is defined as “the creation of digital texts, images and recordings that portray the teacher in ways that are demeaning and/or ridicule the teacher which are then transmitted to others”.
The report found that the majority of cyberbullying was mainly perpetrated by pupils (59%) with most of this victimisation taking place on social media.
The impact of cyberbullying ranged from increased anxiety and stress levels, negative impacts on their working environment and a reluctance to report the issue and seek help from management.
Liam Challenor, a doctoral researcher at DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre said the study showed that more resources are needed to safeguard the mental health of Irish teachers.
He said: “The findings of this research show that some post-primary teachers in Ireland experience cyberbullying from pupils, parents and other school staff. This victimisation has a significant impact on the well-being of these teachers and on a teacher’s role within a school context. It requires further supports to reduce cyberbullying in schools and to support everyone within the school community.”
One research participant described what it was like the experience the abuse.
The teacher said: “It is very upsetting. It is also very embarrassing to read nasty comments written about you, with no chance to defend yourself and no means of finding out who is responsible.”
“Since it is in writing, it can be viewed again and again. The deliberate and underhand nature is intimidating and it’s hard to prevent further bullying.”