Teachers are reportedly quitting their jobs after being falsely labelled as paedophiles by students in TikTok videos.
The TikTok craze has seen students make ‘derogatory comments’ about staff and other pupils, including falsely labelling staff as adulterers and paedophiles.
Unions have warned that the harmful TikTok videos are causing teachers to quit their jobs, while the videos have been reported to the police, The Telegraph reported.
Pupils at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, have been sharing abusive content about teachers on social media.
Elsewhere, a Welsh school had to call the police after a meme falsely suggested one teacher was an offender, while a school in Burton has seen students covertly taking pictures of teachers in class to use in often ‘sexualised’ videos.
Pupils at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School (pictured) in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, have been sharing abusive content about teachers on social media
The TikTok craze has seen students make ‘derogatory comments’ about staff and other pupils, including falsely labelling staff as adulterers and paedophiles (stock image)
The NASUWT teachers union has warned that the social media craze was leading to teachers quitting the profession.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: ‘If there is any evidence that companies like TikTok are actively promoting or inciting the abuse of teachers, this is wholly unacceptable and urgent action must be taken immediately by the Government.
‘There is simply no excuse for abuse of teachers whose lives are being ruined as a result of the posting of malicious content on these social media platforms.’
Meanwhile, Scotland’s biggest teaching union says it will ‘consider all options’ to safeguard its members from abuse and urged councils to get police to investigate specific incidents where appropriate.
Education chiefs demand TikTok take action to stop pupils posting abusive videos about their teachers
The Government has intervened after teachers were subjected to abuse in TikTok videos – including them being wrongly branded paedophiles and mocked.
More than 50 reports of staff suffering ‘disgraceful abuse’ through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform have been received by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
The posts are ‘often defamatory and offensive’ and some are homophobic, the headteachers’ union has said.
Academies minister Baroness Barran said she is ‘deeply concerned by the abhorrent abuse’ and the Department for Education (DfE) is engaging with TikTok on the steps it is taking to address the issue.
School leaders’ unions have called on TikTok to remove the posts swiftly and prevent ‘offensive and abusive’ material from being uploaded in the first place.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: ‘Over the past couple of weeks, school staff have suffered disgraceful abuse through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform TikTok.
‘We do not know how widespread this is but we have received over 50 reports, and we suspect there are many more.
‘These posts are often defamatory and offensive, and some are homophobic. Schools tell us that they have asked TikTok to remove them but TikTok has often failed to act despite these posts clearly breaching the platform’s community guidelines.
‘This material is extremely distressing for the staff who are targeted, and the young people who are posting it are involved in behaviour which could lead to them being excluded from school and, in extreme cases, being the subject of a police investigation.’
Mr Barton said the union has written to TikTok to request a meeting about the issue and it has been raised with the governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
He added that TikTok has said it is investigating the issue and is using a combination of technologies and moderation teams to identify and remove content or accounts that violate its community guidelines.
It told ASCL it has already acted against a large number of accounts.
Mr Barton said: ‘This in our view reinforces the urgent need for regulation of social media platforms.
‘Social media platforms should be legally responsible for ensuring they have processes in place which prevent offensive and abusive material from being posted in the first place.’
Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘TikTok and other social media companies must step up and take far greater responsibility for the content hosted on their platforms.
‘The racist and homophobic abuse against school staff in some TikTok videos is entirely unacceptable, yet there appears a worrying lack of urgency and priority given to removing inappropriate and distressing posts.
‘If they are unwilling to adequately police content themselves, then we would encourage government to take steps to intervene on behalf of the victims of abusive content.
‘No company should be allowed to profit from the misery of others.’
Baroness Barran said on Twitter: ‘Social media companies need to take action against harmful content and my department is engaging with TikTok on the steps they are taking to address the issue.’
A Government spokeswoman said: ‘It is never acceptable for anyone to harass or intimidate teachers and other education staff.
‘Any instance of online abuse is abhorrent and online criminal attacks should be immediately reported to the police.
‘We are engaging with TikTok on the steps being taken by them to address this issue involving teachers.
‘We are clear that social media companies need to take action against harmful content on their platforms and we are introducing laws which will usher in a new era of accountability for these social media companies.’
Students at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton have falsely labelled teachers as paedophiles in a string of TikTok videos.
A letter from Our Lady’s head teacher Christopher Smith, written in partnership with council education chief Laura Mason, was issued to parents and carers and published on the school’s social media feeds last week.
In the letter, Mr Smith wrote: ‘We are aware of a number of TikTok accounts and videos that have been created that include images of and derogatory comments about our teaching staff and pupils.
‘I am sure you can imagine how upsetting this can be for anyone subjected to this.
‘Given our continued focus on ensuring our schools provide inclusive, diverse learning environments where our young people can thrive, we cannot tolerate this.’
The letter added: ‘We would encourage you to monitor your child’s use of their phone and in particular social media sites and their contents.’
Police Scotland has been made aware of the ‘upsetting’ jibes being hurled at staff by students at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School.
West Dunbartonshire Council’s education convener, Councillor Karen Conaghan said: ‘I’d ask pupils to try and put themselves in the other person’s shoes and ask themselves if they’d like to be treated in that manner.
‘Pupils need to know that such behaviour has consequences.’
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie labelled the footage as ‘completely inappropriate’, adding: ‘Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and this extends to the way they are treated on social media platforms, as well as in person.
‘I know that Our Lady and St Patrick’s teaches its pupils to be courteous and respectful and the school is right to crack down on anyone found to be making such videos.’
A spokesman for Educational Institute of Scotland said: ‘This is an issue of growing concern, and the EIS will consider all options to protect its members from this unacceptable abuse.
‘Local authorities should be taking appropriate steps to protect their employees, including potential police involvement where appropriate.’
The widespread TikTok craze has also seen students at The de Ferrers Academy in Burton secretly taking pictures of teachers and using them in often ‘sexualised’ videos.
Principal Kathy Hardy has warned that such incidents would not be tolerated at the Burton school and leaders were investigating to find out which pupils were involved.
She said: ‘Many of the images are sexualised and the language and tone wholly inappropriate and hurtful.
‘Images have been taken covertly while staff have been teaching in school.’
School leaders have also warned students that they risk being prosecuted in court and being expelled.
Meanwhile, Cwmtawe Community School in Pontardawe, Wales, contacted the police after a video was secretly shot in class, despite the school’s mobile ban, and shared to TikTok.
The child of the slandered teacher had alerted the school to the video, who spoke to parents in a bid to discover who had originally posted the footage.
Gemma Morgan, assistant head teacher at the school, said: ‘In one of the reports we had back [from TikTok] said they didn’t deem it as bullying.
‘So the only way really that we could get these things taken down was to do our own investigation and find out the perpetrator and get them to take it down.’
PUPILS HAVE BEEN SECRETLY TAKE PICTURES OF TEACHERS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEOS
Students at The de Ferrers Academy in Burton have been secretly taking pictures of teachers using them in ‘wholly inappropriate’ often ‘sexualised’ social media videos.
Parents of pupils have been informed about the ‘hurtful’ videos using images of some staff, which have appeared on TikTok.
School leaders have warned pupils they risk being prosecuted in court and being expelled.
Leaders at the school, which has three sites in the town and is the biggest secondary in Staffordshire, said some pictures of staff had been lifted from the school’s website, while others had been taken covertly during lessons.
Principal Kathy Hardy warned that such incidents would not be tolerated and leaders were investigating to find out which pupils were involved.
She said: ‘Many of the images are sexualised and the language and tone wholly inappropriate and hurtful. Images have been taken covertly while staff have been teaching in school.’
She warned in a letter sent to parents that it was illegal to create such videos and could result in a prosecution for malicious communication as well as a permanent suspension.
She also said such things were also happening at other schools across the country.
Her letter said: ‘You may have seen information in the news about the misuse of social media accounts by students and the negative impact that these are having on teachers and staff in school.
‘This is something affecting most secondary schools across the country, and we are no exception. We are aware of TikTok videos being created using images of some staff members.
‘These images have been taken from the school website and also the internet. Many of the images are sexualised and the language and tone wholly inappropriate and hurtful. Images have been taken covertly while staff have been teaching in school.
‘We are doing our best to identify students involved in creating these accounts and images. This activity is illegal and could result in prosecutions as malicious communication, as well as school-based sanctions up to and including permanent suspension.
‘You may believe that your child would not be involved in such activity but please remember that following an illegal account or sharing images and videos (whether your child is in them or not) is a serious issue and it is better for you to be safe and ensure that this isn’t the case.
‘Aside from potential illegality, these actions are neither a wise choice and are not in keeping with the ethos that we promote as a trust, ‘Work hard, be kind, choose wisely’.
‘Accounts can also be used to bully other students and phones can be used to download illegal or inappropriate content.’
Mrs Hardy urged parents to speak to their children about this issues and the risks associated with following these accounts and sharing such images.
She added that she knows parents may feel uncomfortable with this and ‘only you know whether this is the right thing to do’.
Mrs Hardy said her first concern was for the welfare of the pupils and what they had access to but she was also concerned about the staff who ‘work hard to provide the best for the students’ and she would not accept staff being subjected to this abuse.
Ian McNeilly, chief executive of The de Ferrers Trust, said: ‘Social media has huge benefits for its users but it also comes with considerable down sides, especially when it is misused.
‘This particular story is a national one and many schools have unfortunate examples of images of their staff members being used inappropriately in videos and then shared on the TikTok platform.
‘Whilst I’m sure it serves as a source of entertainment for some of the young people who create, share and watch them, they need to understand that there are real people behind those images.
‘Real people with real feelings who have been deeply upset by being bullied in this way – because that is what it is.
‘School leaders will take the necessary action against any students who are identified as being involved in this.
‘We advise parents to at the very least discuss this issue with their children and seek assurances that they are not involved.’