Teachers have always had to expect a certain amount of stick from their pupils. It’s part of the job; normally we don’t grumble too much about it. Over my 14 years in the profession I’ve worked across nine secondary schools, teaching history in Wales, Blackpool, and Liverpool.
Sometimes, I encountered challenging behavioural problems. I’ve been told to “f— off”; called an “idiot” and a “tw–”. Teenagers can be aggressive, but as a teacher you can’t take any of it to heart. We have to depersonalise the abuse, leaving it at the school gates at the end of the day. Normally, I’m fairly good at doing that. It’s an issue I discuss regularly on Teachers’ Talk Radio, an online radio station I help to direct.
But a week ago, that changed. I was labelled a paedophile by an anonymous TikTok user, presumably a pupil at my school. For the first time in my career I felt truly shocked – and afraid.