Education International
Education International

Teachers Against Cyberbullying

published 29 May 2008 updated 29 May 2008

Around 50.000 teachers in Germany are victims of cyberbullying, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) reveales in a study on cyberbullying released on 27 May.

Also called "cybermobbing", cyberbullying refers to the use of new information and communication technologies, such as mobile phones or the internet, to harass, defame or bully. The study used a sample of 500 teachers. Eight per cent of those interviewed professed to have been victims of cyberbullying themselves, while more than a third claimed that they knew of a colleague who was a victim. Both female and male teachers are equally targetted. In 70% of the cases, students are the perpetrators. Presenting the results was Marianne Demmer, Vice-President of the GEW: "Many teachers have the impression of being susceptible to harassment at any given moment." Calling for clear codes of conduct and sets of rules to handle manners and practices in cyberspace, Demmer denounced the trend of cyberbullying as a "growing menace." In some cases, the victims have even received death threats. An example cited in the study is the case of a teacher in the state of Bavaria, who had been alerted by a parent of the circulation of a fictional video in which he was the main character. The teacher had to confront his pupils in school about the video in order to find out the culprit. In the course of this, many pupils were said to be shocked by the material. In another case, a male teacher was falsely accused of pedophilia in a fake online journal. Another teacher started receiving phone calls of a sexual nature after she had revealed her private phone number to her pupils who posted it on a sex channel. The study also reveals the harmful consequences of bullying: the victims suffer from depression, insomnia, or mood swings. In many cases, they did not press charges against the perpetrators for fear of ridicule or loss of their job. The GEW is calling for more support for, and protection of, both teachers and students against cyberbullying. The complete survey can be found at the link below.

CSQ demands swift and effective action plan from the government In Canada, the Centrale des Syndicats du Québec (CSQ) on 10 April released the results of a survey conducted among its membership on cyberbullying in school. "Pupils are the first victims of cyberbullying while three-quarters of education personnel are affected by this growing trend," said Réjean Parent, President of the CSQ. CSQ's study reveals that more than a third of the victims were bullied because of their physical appearance, a third received defamatory messages, two out of every ten victims were insulted about their work, 10% of the harassment was of a sexual nature and 5% received threats of physical harm. Based on the results of the survey, the CSQ is demanding that the Quebec authorities put in place a plan of action as soon as possible to curb the growth of cyberbullying. "For sure, violence at school is less spectacular than violence in hockey, but it certainly demands a well-structured and effective intervention. Must we remind our government that violence at school happens everyday and it creates victims every single day? Must we wait until a gunshot is fired and an unhappy event has happened before we act?" Parent asked. For the report of the survey by the CSQ, please click on the link below.

EI member organisations oppose video game condoning bullying in school Earlier in March, a coalition of eight EI member organisations from the US, Canada (including Quebec), the UK (including Scotland), Korea, Australia and the Caribbean, representing four million teachers, joined in an unprecedented effort to condemn bullying and cyberbullying in all its forms. The outcry by teacher organisations was sparked by the release of a video game called "Bully – Scholarship Edition." The outcry sparked positive actions against the game: one big chain store in Canada agreed to pull the video game off its store shelves; a dialogue was developed between the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Canada Teachers' Federation (CTF) regarding the issue of bullying; the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario is currently working with Facebook, a popular social networking website, to alert children and teenagers about disclosing sensitive personal information online.

For the updates to this campaign, please visit the website of the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF; link below).