Wiltshire

Swindon headmaster says Facebook a "danger" to teachers

A Swindon head teacher has warned of the dangers to teachers of social networking sites.

Mike Welsh is the head at Goddard Primary School and the outgoing president of the National Association of Head Teachers.

He has examples of social networking sites being used maliciously to abuse or denigrate teachers.

According to Mr Welsh, one of his staff spent two months trying to remove a Facebook account set up in his name.

'Malicious way'

"Someone took his name and had a picture of him and set up a complete site [on Facebook], which was nothing to do with him at all, " said Mr Welsh.

"They put completely inappropriate things on that site in a very malicious way."

Mr Welsh was among a group of headteachers from schools around the country who warned about internet abuse at a recent National Association of Head Teachers' (NAHT) conference in Brighton.

The NAHT claims that one in five head teachers have suffered abuse on social networking sites such as Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson said: "These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline.

"But while you can't report a conversation outside the school gates or easily stop a person sending abusive, anonymous emails, Facebook have worked hard to develop reporting mechanisms that enable people to report offensive content they are concerned about.

"Having the tools to report content in this way gives people more control over what is said about them on Facebook than over the wider web where few such controls exist."

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