(NEW YORK) — If you do a quick search on YouTube, you can find dozens of videos of teachers “flipping out” to the jeering laughter of students. Known as cyberbaiting, students engage in this form of bullying by provoking teachers to the breaking point and then secretly recording the tantrum on a cellphone and posting it online.
Not only is it humiliating for the teachers, but it can cost them their job. In Houston, gym teacher Sherri Davis was fired after kicking her 13-year-old student to the ground and beating him in front of his classmates, who recorded the incident.
Sometimes, it’s a perfect storm of psychological vulnerability and provocation: Nashville, Tenn., teacher Donald Woods hurled chairs at goading students, but was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to his family.
Recently, the cyber security company Norton reported that 21 percent of teachers worldwide either experienced cyberbaiting themselves or knew a colleague who was cyberbaited. Many lose their jobs after their outbursts, even though students were the provocateurs.
So far, according to the Norton study, only 51 percent of teachers said their schools had guidelines for social media communication.
“If it’s on YouTube it will spread like a cancer,” said Donna Emery, a veteran math teacher from Wilmington, N.C., who now runs a resource center. “Teachers are under attack, period.”
The teacher “sets the stage” for classroom control and open lines of communication with parents at the beginning of the year, but some teachers don’t know how to set boundaries and students can “smell the fear,” she said.
Some blame a culture that has become more violent, parents who coddle their children or budget cuts that create larger class sizes. But cyber experts say it’s the new tools in the hands of impulsive teens.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio