How we should combat teacher cyberbullying

School professionals need to work together to combat cyberbullying of teachers, say two academics who have examined YouTube videos from across the globe, including England.

A paper by Dr Chris Kyriacou and Dr Antonio Zuin shows how students can use social media to challenge and undermine teacher authority. It concludes that
whole-school anti-cyberbullying policies are required, as well as lessons in personal and social education (PSE) that address the role of bystanders during any incident.

Chris Kyriacou is professor of educational psychology at the University of York; Dr Zuin is professor of the philosophy of education at the Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil. Their article was published in Research Papers in Education.

Teachers who are the potential targets also need to think about how to develop a positive ethos in the classroom so that a student is less likely to engage in cyberbullying, the pair add.

A video used in the study was made outside a secondary school in England. Two students are seen fighting with each other, with two teachers struggling to pull them apart. One of the students, still on the ground being restrained by a teacher, is then kicked by the other student as he is pulled away.

Three other teachers are then seen grabbing and pushing two onlooking students who resist efforts to get them to move away from the incident.

Several students scream and laugh throughout. During the footage, one of the onlooking students runs across the front of the camera and yells …”look at
all the staff, it’s a wonderful world”. Students near to the camera start laughing in response.

According to the paper, the recording raises the question of who the victims are in this situation as “both the teachers and the students involved in the struggle were likely to feel demeaned by others viewing the recording of their behaviour”.

The recording appears to be celebrated by the students as “an attack on the image of teachers in general”.

Professor Kyriacou described to Schools Week how cyberbullying had taken the education community by surprise “in terms of how rapid the rise in it has become”.

He said that pupils making secret recordings on smartphones was about the students “turning the tables” on teachers.

“The number one motive is the sheer enjoyment the pupils who make the recordings get . . . they have a mechanism to make themselves more powerful than
the teacher.”

Professor Kyriacou said that lessons within school about cyberbullying
were the best way to show that it was unacceptable.

It was necessary to “get the message clear to all pupils that within the school community this type of cyberbullying of pupil on teacher, or pupil on pupil, is not a way of dealing with problems”.