Theresa May hints at crackdown on parents and kids who bully teachers online

Posted On: 
31st October 2018

Parents and pupils who bully teachers through social media could face a tougher approach from the law under plans hinted at by Theresa May today.

Theresa May Theresa May took questions in the Commons this lunchtime
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister suggested a scheme being rolled out to protect emergency workers from violence could be expanded to those who work in schools.

Ministers have today unveiled plans for a “zero tolerance” approach to violence against healthcare staff, including fast-tracked prosecutions and better systems for workers to record assaults.

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Meanwhile, a bill going through parliament is set to see the sentence for assaulting an emergency worker doubled from six months to a year.

Recent statistics from the Labour Force Survey showed secondary school staff were three times more likely to face violence at work than the average UK employee.

Meanwhile, one in three teachers are said to have faced abusive behaviour from parents and children on social media.

During Prime Minister’s Questions today, Tory MP Gillian Keegan said she had met school leaders in her Chichester constituency who had “been subject to violent attacks by pupils or parents”.

She said: “As the Government launches its NHS violence reduction strategy today, would my Right Honorable Friend consider what else we can do to protect our teachers in the valuable work they do?”

Mrs May responded: “I am certainly happy to look at the issue she refers to… what I assume is physical violence or attacks that teachers have been under.

“I myself have also seen cases where teachers have come under considerable harassment and bullying on social media as well, and so I think this is an issue that we do need to look at.”

Over the six years to 2015-16, there was an average of 8,000 attacks on school staff per year, the BBC revealed when it obtained a copy of the Labour Force Survey in March.

A separate survey by the Nasuwt union found police took no action in almost half of the online abuse cases they were alerted to.

The Government published advice at the start of the year about how schools can support teachers who face bullying on the web.

NHS VIOLENCE PLAN

The NHS anti-violence strategy outlined by ministers today says care inspectors will check up on trusts to make sure their plans to reduce violence against staff are up to scratch.

Workers will also receive better training to deal with violent situations, including challenging circumstances involving patients with dementia or mental health issues.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We will not shy away from the issue.

“We want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”