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Monday 22 September 2014

Garda probe into abuse of teachers on Facebook page

Niamh McCarthy and Louise Hogan

Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00

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GARDAI have been contacted after a social network site was used to target teachers and pupils at a secondary school.

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Photographs and derogatory comments were posted on a Facebook page about some of the teachers at the all-boys Colaiste Phadraig Christian Brothers CBS school in Lucan, Dublin.

Principal Brian Murtagh confirmed the gardai had been contacted after the school was made aware of the postings on the social networking site.

"There were offences, and untrue statements were made on a Facebook page about some pupils and teachers at our school," said Mr Murtagh.

"We have had the page removed and we are trying to take all measures that we can to find out where the material was sourced and who put it up."

Gardai are investigating who originally created the page. "There has been no decision made regarding any sanction until the investigations are finished," Mr Murtagh said.

A parent told the Irish Independent that whoever had created the page had obtained pictures of some of the teachers and then placed them on the page for others to comment upon.

It is understood the parents of a number of pupils who tagged the offending material with a Facebook 'like' of the page online have also been contacted.

Derogatory

There is a rising trend in schools calling in the gardai to report issues surrounding derogatory comments being posted up online, according to the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland ( ASTI).

One of the latest online phenomenon reported to them is 'Facebook Meme' – which involves students creating an anonymous Facebook page based around the school and posting photographs and comments on it.

"In terms of students using social networking to post comments, images, whatever, about teachers, we would be very concerned about it," said Diarmuid de Paor, deputy general secretary of the ASTI. "It does happen and we are hearing more reports about it."

Mr de Paor said teenagers must accept responsibility for the comments they made about others online and understand it is "publishing" and not just "playground chatter".

The ASTI has been made aware of cases where schools have reported 'Facebook Meme' pages to the gardai and disciplinary action has been taken against pupils.

The union has been encouraging schools to update their policies on 'cyberbullying' towards pupils and staff.

"I've seen some stuff that is quite frankly hateful that has been put up, particularly in relation to female teachers," he said.

Mr de Paor said teachers should not have to put up with the level of online abuse being reported, which can also prove stressful for the children of teachers.

Irish Independent

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