Parents and the world of Social Media

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now widely used and these sites can be a headache for teachers who worry about cyberbullying, safeguarding and abusive messaging. Unfortunately, some parents may take to sites such as these to express critical or negative opinions of their child's School or even particular individuals such as their teachers.

The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) has published "social networking" guidance for its members recommending that they seek legal advice if they feel comments posted online about them are defamatory. In some circumstances, members have felt that the best way forward is to simply ignore the comment and put it down to attention-seeking behavior – since there is always the worry that pursuing the matter could spread the content to a wider audience. However, in other circumstances, legal advice or even police involvement may be more appropriate especially where postings have a racist or violent element.

If the comments are more specifically critical of the management of the school, the first step is to contact the parent, invite them to express their concerns and ask them to remove the comment. Normally the issue is thus resolved. However, with more difficult parents, you are perfectly entitled to contact the social media site and ask for the comment to be removed if the parent refuses to do so.

It is important to note that when Schools do respond to abuse online, it must never retaliate or become personally involved and always keep a record of the abuse by taking screen shots for example.

If you have a particular issue in mind in relation to this topic, please do speak to one of our Education Team who would be more than happy to help!