April 10, 2007 / 8:14 AM / 12 years ago

Video Web sites urged to tackle school bullies

LONDON (Reuters) - Video-sharing Web sites like YouTube have a “moral obligation” to tackle bullies who post clips showing abuse of teachers and pupils, the government will say on Tuesday.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson attends a question and answer session on the fourth day of the annual Labour Party conference in Manchester, September 27, 2006. Video-sharing Web sites like YouTube have a "moral obligation" to tackle bullies who post clips showing abuse of teachers and pupils, the government will say on Tuesday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Education Secretary Alan Johnson will urge site operators to do more to remove videos taken by pupils on mobile phones which humiliate or mock staff.

“The online harassment of teachers is causing some to consider leaving the profession because of the defamation and humiliation they are forced to suffer,” he is due to say in a speech, according to extracts published by the BBC.

“These are big companies we are talking about. They have a social responsibility and a moral obligation to act.”

One clip on YouTube shows a pupil run up behind a teacher at the blackboard and pull his trousers down as the class bursts out laughing.

Another clip, captioned “fat bastard crazy teacher that no one likes”, shows a teacher bang a desk with his fist and repeatedly shout “stop talking” at the class.

Other sites allow pupils to write derogatory comments about their teachers or publish embarrassing pictures of them, unions say.

The education secretary is expected to announce new powers for teachers to confiscate mobiles and digital music players than can be used to record their teachers.

Chris Keates, head of the NASUWT union, said teachers who took pupils’ phones used to be accused of breaching children’s human rights.

“Ridiculous as that seems, these tools have been used in the classroom to perpetrate the most appalling incidents and abuse of teachers,” Keates told BBC radio. “Only now can teachers remove them with impunity.”

About 17 percent of teachers have suffered from bullying via email, text message or malicious use of Web sites or Internet chatrooms, according to a survey earlier this year.

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