Research by DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) has found high levels of anxiety and stress among teachers due to cyberbullying by pupils.
It recommended a greater level of support for teachers’ well-being and online safety after a report 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 12 months.
Teachers surveyed cited increased stress with many reporting that it significantly impacted them during their working day.
The research also found that less than half had received anti-bullying training.
Liam Challenor, a doctoral researcher at DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre highlighted the findings during a presentation titled “Cyberbullying of Post-Primary Teachers by Pupils in Ireland” at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s National Conference in Wexford today.
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.”
It found that cyberbullying was mainly perpetrated by pupils (59%) with most of this victimisation taking place on social media.
Mr Challenor highlighted that the reported 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.
Mr Challenor said: “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.
"The motivation to investigate this issue further arose after teachers mentioned their own experiences during a series of Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre training sessions in post-primary schools.”
Some of the participants spoke of their experiences.
One 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.”