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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Mobile phones 'offensive weapons'
Cyber bullying
Camera phones have been used to secretly record teachers
A teaching union is calling for mobile phones to be classed as potentially offensive weapons.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said the way pupils misused them to bully their teachers meant they should be banned from school premises.

She has sent evidence of more than 100 cases of teachers being abused and bullied by phone, e-mail and online.

The government recently announced a crackdown on "cyberbullying" and gave teachers powers to confiscate mobiles.

The time has come for mobiles in schools to be placed in the category of a potentially offensive weapon
Chris Keates
NASUWT general secretary

As part of this it has set up a Cyberbullying task force made up of industry, ministerial and teaching union representatives.

Ms Keates is raising the issue of mobiles with ministers at a task force meeting on Tuesday.

She is particularly concerned about websites such as Ratemyteacher and Bebo which, she says, provide a vehicle for false allegations and abuse by pupils which can damage teachers' self esteem and careers.

She said: "These sites are fed by pupils' misuse of mobile phones. The time has come for mobiles in schools to be placed in the category of a potentially offensive weapon and action taken to prevent their use by pupils while on school premises.

"Regrettably, our evidence shows that some schools are still not taking these issues seriously."

'Firm action'

She added: "In the vast majority of the cases we have raised with the minister no appropriate action had been taken by the school to support the victim or deal with the perpetrators."

Schools minister Jim Knight said NASUWT had consistently raised the issue of mobile phones in schools, reflecting their members' concerns.

"New technology has an important role to play in schools but its vital that it is used safely and that it is not used to undermine teachers or bully pupils.

"That's why I'm chairing a meeting of representatives from teaching unions, mobile phone companies, websites and children's groups this evening to look at ways we can limit the misuse of the internet and mobile phones by young people."

Back in April at her teaching union's annual conference, Education Secretary Alan Johnson said protecting teachers from web bullies was a top priority.

Mr Johnson argued that web publishers had a "moral obligation" to cut offensive videos of teachers being attacked, harassed or ridiculed.

But Ms Keates suggests the government, which has mainly relied on web publishers regulating themselves, has not gone far enough and argues that "firm action" is now needed.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A teacher explains why the sites must help



SEE ALSO
How do you stop the cyberbullies?
10 Apr 07 |  Education
Johnson's internet bullies pledge
04 Apr 07 |  Education
Cyber bullying threat to teachers
03 Apr 07 |  Education
Teachers victims of cyber-bullies
12 Feb 07 |  Northern Ireland

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