Northern Ireland news

Teachers demand action against abusive TikTok videos

Police have warned pupils that teachers are facing "deep stress" as a result of targeting on TikTok.
Paul Ainsworth

TEACHERS are demanding that social media companies take firm action to remove all videos which abuse school staff.

The call came as the PSNI warned pupils that setting up false TikTok profiles for schools could "quickly escalate" and lead to criminal offences.

There have been more than 80 reports of fake accounts, police revealed.

Officers are working with education authorities to clamp down on the issue, which can see teachers and other school staff facing "deep stress" over content posted on the social media platform.

Police have issued a letter to all schools warning of the consequences of creating such accounts.

The Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC) urged companies to cooperate fully with police.

Unions said a significant number of schools had been affected.

"The latest social media craze of posting offensive videos on the TikTok platform is causing real harm to teachers," a spokesman said.

"The abuse spans a wide range, but the NITC is particularly concerned that much of it is sectarian, racist, sexist, and homophobic. In addition, allegations have been made which are both false and highly malicious.

"Urgent intervention is needed from the Department of Education and school employers. The NITC are asking all schools to take firm action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, particularly those who are subjected to online abuse. The NITC commend those principals who are working to protect their staff during the current crisis."

In a video message to school pupils, PSNI superintendent Arnie O'Neill warned young people not to create fake accounts or engage with them.

"Nobody should have to face this at work or in any environment," he said.

"What can be seen as a bit of fun online can quickly escalate, with content becoming abusive and potentially constituting a crime."

Earlier this month, staff at Lurgan Junior High School in Co Armagh contacted police over a TikTok video rating their teachers.

Speaking of the recent reports, Mr O'Neill said: "Our officers are working closely with local schools, Department of Education and the Education Authority to investigate these incidents, and would appeal to anyone who is aware of these videos or who has been impacted by them to come forward.

 

"Any victim of this type of crime will be dealt with in the utmost confidence and in a sensitive manner by our officers.

 

“We would remind those involved in this type of activity of the harm it causes. The individuals targeted are left deeply distressed."

He added: "We would ask both parents and guardians to remind their young people of the consequences of committing an offence, as it could result in a criminal record that could greatly impact their future plans. What goes online, stays online."

 

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