online abuse
The number of teachers being abused online by parents and children has increased dramatically Getty

Schools need to do more to protect teachers from being abused online from both pupils and their parents following a rise in the number of reported cases, a union has said.

According to a survey, teachers are subjected to racist, homophobic and sexist abuse online and on social media, as well as comments about their appearance and malicious slurs about them being paedophiles.

The survey from National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) found that so far in 2015, 60% of teachers have reported abusive comments posted about them on social media, compared to 21% in 2014.

NASUWT said what is "particularly concerning" is that of those who reported abuse, 40% said it came from parents.

Among the examples of abuse is one teacher being sent sexually explicit messages online by pupils for several months and also having a fake Facebook account set up in her name, while another said she received a comment which said "I hope she gets cancer".

One teacher said pupils described her as a "stupid f*****g w***e" and an "ugly f*****g b***h" online, while another pupil falsely portrayed them as a paedophile.

Over a third (34%) of teachers also had videos or photos taken of them without consent by pupils, which were then posted online.

Teachers have also seen a huge rise in abuse from parents, including one who said a parent commented on the size of her nose and "that I was ugly", and one who was called a "b***h" for an "obviously untrue" accusation that she tried to kill her daughter by making her do PE without her inhaler.

Nearly three quarters of teachers (73%) said that their school did have social media policy guidelines for teachers, but only 26% of those policies make reference to protecting staff from abuse by social media.

The survey showed 61% of teachers received comments from pupils on Facebook, with a further 23% on Twitter. However, teachers have also received abuse on other sites and social networks such as 17% on Ratemyteacher, Instagram (8%), SnapChat (7%) and YouTube (3%). Nearly all of the abuse from parents (98%) came via Facebook.

While nearly three quarters of teachers did report the abuse from pupils or parents, NASUWT said effective response to this abuse remains "unacceptably low".

The survey said 42% of teachers found no action was taken against a pupil when they reported abuse to the headteacher. Where incidents involving pupils were reported to the police, 70% saw no action taken.

One teacher who reported the abuse said she was told to "sweep it under the carpet" by the school's head while another said it is "ok for parents to write horrible things" about them on Facebook.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: "It is deeply worrying to see that the abuse of teachers has risen by such a huge margin this year. Equally concerning is that it appears that more parents are the perpetrators of the abuse.

"The vile, insulting and personal comments are taking their toll on teachers' health and well-being and undermining their confidence to do their job. Many teachers tell us that they suspect they are being abused online but dare not look, for fear they could never walk into their school again to have to face their abusers.

"While there has been some improvement in action taken on reported abuse, there are still too many cases where no appropriate action is taken and teachers are being left devastated, humiliated and traumatised.

"An incoming Government must take this issue seriously and require schools not only to have a zero-tolerance policy, but to use all the sanctions available to them to address the abuse of staff."