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Pupil sent headteacher TikTok death threat saying he wanted to gouge her eyes out

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A school pupil posted a disturbing video on social media saying they wanted their headteacher dead and to gouge her eyes out – before admitting they did it to get more likes and followers.

The pupil at Horndean Technology College, Hants, uploaded the shocking death threat video to TikTok – a social media famed for its viral dance and comedy videos. 

Julie Summerfield, who was the target of the sick video, said when she confronted the student about it they revealed they had posted it ‘to get more likes and more followers’. 

A teacher at the same school was also targeted by student who had mocked up an image of them holding a homophobic sign. 

The two videos come amid a nationwide ‘teaching-bashing’ craze, which has seen educators targeted by students posting ‘hurtful’ and threatening videos about them online.

At least 10 teachers at Horndean Technology College are believed to have been targeted this month alone.

Headteacher Julie Summerfield, who was the target of the sick video, said she confronted her student about it they revealed they had posted it 'to get more likes and more followers'

Headteacher Julie Summerfield, who was the target of the sick video, said she confronted her student about it they revealed they had posted it ‘to get more likes and more followers’

The pupil at Horndean Technology College, Hants, uploaded the shocking death threat video to TikTok - a social media famed for its viral dance and comedy videos

The pupil at Horndean Technology College, Hants, uploaded the shocking death threat video to TikTok – a social media famed for its viral dance and comedy videos

Education chiefs demand TikTok take action to stop pupils posting abusive videos about their teachers

The Government has intervened after teachers were subjected to abuse in TikTok videos – including them being wrongly branded paedophiles and mocked. 

More than 50 reports of staff suffering ‘disgraceful abuse’ through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform have been received by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

The posts are ‘often defamatory and offensive’ and some are homophobic, the headteachers’ union has said.

Academies minister Baroness Barran said she is ‘deeply concerned by the abhorrent abuse’ and the Department for Education (DfE) is engaging with TikTok on the steps it is taking to address the issue.

School leaders’ unions have called on TikTok to remove the posts swiftly and prevent ‘offensive and abusive’ material from being uploaded in the first place.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: ‘Over the past couple of weeks, school staff have suffered disgraceful abuse through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform TikTok.

‘We do not know how widespread this is but we have received over 50 reports, and we suspect there are many more.

‘These posts are often defamatory and offensive, and some are homophobic. Schools tell us that they have asked TikTok to remove them but TikTok has often failed to act despite these posts clearly breaching the platform’s community guidelines.

‘This material is extremely distressing for the staff who are targeted, and the young people who are posting it are involved in behaviour which could lead to them being excluded from school and, in extreme cases, being the subject of a police investigation.’

Mr Barton said the union has written to TikTok to request a meeting about the issue and it has been raised with the governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He added that TikTok has said it is investigating the issue and is using a combination of technologies and moderation teams to identify and remove content or accounts that violate its community guidelines.

It told ASCL it has already acted against a large number of accounts.

Mr Barton said: ‘This in our view reinforces the urgent need for regulation of social media platforms.

‘Social media platforms should be legally responsible for ensuring they have processes in place which prevent offensive and abusive material from being posted in the first place.’

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘TikTok and other social media companies must step up and take far greater responsibility for the content hosted on their platforms.

‘The racist and homophobic abuse against school staff in some TikTok videos is entirely unacceptable, yet there appears a worrying lack of urgency and priority given to removing inappropriate and distressing posts.

‘If they are unwilling to adequately police content themselves, then we would encourage government to take steps to intervene on behalf of the victims of abusive content.

‘No company should be allowed to profit from the misery of others.’

Baroness Barran said on Twitter: ‘Social media companies need to take action against harmful content and my department is engaging with TikTok on the steps they are taking to address the issue.’

A Government spokeswoman said: ‘It is never acceptable for anyone to harass or intimidate teachers and other education staff.

‘Any instance of online abuse is abhorrent and online criminal attacks should be immediately reported to the police.

‘We are engaging with TikTok on the steps being taken by them to address this issue involving teachers.

‘We are clear that social media companies need to take action against harmful content on their platforms and we are introducing laws which will usher in a new era of accountability for these social media companies.’

TikTok has been approached for comment.

 

Mrs Summerfield said the student who posted the video about her was identified and sanctioned by staff at the school.

She said: ‘I asked them: ‘How would you feel if someone wrote that about your mother?’

‘They said they did it to get more likes and more followers.

‘What is worrying is there are more avenues for people to be horrible and do it anonymously.

‘A lot of students don’t see it as a school issue – it’s quite a shock for people when they find out that we can do something about it.’

Up to ten other teachers at the school have been targeted in the past fortnight on the popular social media platform.

Andrea Marr, the school’s anti-bullying co-ordinator, said she has been targeted by three students on the platform with one using a photo-shopped image to paint her as homophobic.

Ms Marr said: ‘Someone had mocked up an image of me holding a sign saying that I hate gay people – which was incredibly hurtful.’

It comes as research from anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label showed there has been a 20 per cent increase in hate speech and online abuse since the start of the pandemic.

As part of national charity Anti-Bullying Alliance’s Anti-Bullying Week, the school held a series of assemblies to address the trend.

The assemblies are part of a wider, longstanding focus on tackling bullying and supporting other schools to get to grips with the nationwide problem. 

Madelyn Grace, a 14-year-old student at the school who is part of its dedicated equality and rights advocacy group, told the Portsmouth News: ‘Recently there has definitely been a rise in social media hate.

‘It’s something that schools and the older generation, and people in general, should be considering more.

‘It’s not just ‘sticks and stones may break my bones’.’

For Ms Marr, more funding is needed for schools to focus on inclusion and anti-bullying work, as well as staff dedicated to dealing with issues arising from social media.

She said: ‘Most of my time is around social media – it takes up a lot of my time now.’

It comes as the Government earlier this month intervened after teachers were subjected to abuse in TikTok videos – including them being wrongly branded paedophiles and mocked. 

More than 50 reports of staff suffering ‘disgraceful abuse’ through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform have been received by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

The posts are ‘often defamatory and offensive’ and some are homophobic, the headteachers’ union has said.

Academies minister Baroness Barran said she is ‘deeply concerned by the abhorrent abuse’ and the Department for Education (DfE) is engaging with TikTok on the steps it is taking to address the issue.

School leaders’ unions have called on TikTok to remove the posts swiftly and prevent ‘offensive and abusive’ material from being uploaded in the first place.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: ‘Over the past couple of weeks, school staff have suffered disgraceful abuse through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform TikTok.

‘We do not know how widespread this is but we have received over 50 reports, and we suspect there are many more.

‘These posts are often defamatory and offensive, and some are homophobic. Schools tell us that they have asked TikTok to remove them but TikTok has often failed to act despite these posts clearly breaching the platform’s community guidelines.

‘This material is extremely distressing for the staff who are targeted, and the young people who are posting it are involved in behaviour which could lead to them being excluded from school and, in extreme cases, being the subject of a police investigation.’

Mr Barton said the union has written to TikTok to request a meeting about the issue and it has been raised with the governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He added that TikTok has said it is investigating the issue and is using a combination of technologies and moderation teams to identify and remove content or accounts that violate its community guidelines.

It told ASCL it has already acted against a large number of accounts.

Mr Barton said: ‘This in our view reinforces the urgent need for regulation of social media platforms.

Social media site TikTok has been hosting the controversial video clips of the teachers

Social media site TikTok has been hosting the controversial video clips of the teachers

More than 50 reports of staff suffering 'disgraceful abuse' through messages have been made

More than 50 reports of staff suffering ‘disgraceful abuse’ through messages have been made

‘Social media platforms should be legally responsible for ensuring they have processes in place which prevent offensive and abusive material from being posted in the first place.’

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘TikTok and other social media companies must step up and take far greater responsibility for the content hosted on their platforms.

‘The racist and homophobic abuse against school staff in some TikTok videos is entirely unacceptable, yet there appears a worrying lack of urgency and priority given to removing inappropriate and distressing posts.

Baroness Barran said social media companies need to take action against harmful content

Baroness Barran said social media companies need to take action against harmful content

‘If they are unwilling to adequately police content themselves, then we would encourage government to take steps to intervene on behalf of the victims of abusive content.

‘No company should be allowed to profit from the misery of others.’

Baroness Barran said on Twitter: ‘Social media companies need to take action against harmful content and my department is engaging with TikTok on the steps they are taking to address the issue.’

A Government spokeswoman said: ‘It is never acceptable for anyone to harass or intimidate teachers and other education staff.

‘Any instance of online abuse is abhorrent and online criminal attacks should be immediately reported to the police.

‘We are engaging with TikTok on the steps being taken by them to address this issue involving teachers.

‘We are clear that social media companies need to take action against harmful content on their platforms and we are introducing laws which will usher in a new era of accountability for these social media companies.’

TikTok has been approached for comment.



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