A GROWING number of racist and sexist social media posts by pupils are being reported to police by East Lancashire schools, it has been revealed.

Officers have urged youngsters to take extra care when using social media following the rise and for parents to monitor their children’s computer and phone use.


It comes as Norden High School in Rishton said it had called the police four times over separate incidents in recent weeks.

The latest warning also comes a month after a so-called ‘internet troll’ mocked the death of a 12-year-old Accrington Academy student who died after catching flu.

In another case parents were even warned about their own online behaviour and posting possibly libellous and defamatory comments about schools on Facebook.

A police spokesman said the force was dealing with a rise in calls across the whole area, including the incidents at Norden High School.

He said: “Social media misuse is an increasing issue for officers.

“We would urge care when using social media and for parents to monitor their child’s computer and phone use.”

Norden headteacher Tim Mitchell has branded the behaviour by his students as ‘naïve’ in a letter to parents.

He said: “Clearly within school we block social media sites on school computers as a matter of course, however, current technology dictates that most students have a mobile phone that provides internet access.

“I would like to make it clear that any student found to be responsible for sending or forwarding any inappropriate messages or images will be sanctioned in line with the school’s behaviour policy.

“Similarly mobile phones will be confiscated, material erased and phones will only be released to a parent or carer.

“Where a criminal offence may have occurred details will be passed directly to the police.”

In October, the heartbroken mum of Olivia Diamond, who died from a heart condition brought on by the flu virus, was left shocked when an Instagram account emerged appearing to mock her daughter’s death.

Parents of children at a Pendle primary school were also warned this month not to use social media to criticise the school.

In a newsletter to parents Barnoldswick CE Primary School said that legal options will be considered in some cases if comments against the school, headteacher or teaching staff are posted online.

A spokesman said: “Social media websites are being used increasingly to fuel campaigns and complaints against schools, headteachers, school staff and in some cases other parents/pupils.

“Barnoldswick CE Primary School considers the use of social media websites being used in this way as unacceptable.

“In the event that any pupil or parent/carer of the children being educated in Barnoldswick CE Primary School is found to be posting libellous or defamatory comments about school on Facebook or other social network sites, they will be reported to the appropriate ‘report abuse’ section of the network site.”

The National Union of Teachers in East Lancashire has backed the advice from schools.

Simon Jones, who represents the NUT in the region, said: “We recognise that this is a growing problem in schools.

“There are several dimensions to it and schools do need to have a very robust and fit-for-purpose social media policy.

“They do also have a duty of care to protect their staff and in extreme cases the union will reserve the right to take legal action against parents and members of the public for defamation of character if our members are targeted in social media campaigns.”

Police said they had investigated the posts reported to them by Norden High School and that they did not ‘warrant any formal action’.

A spokesman said: “Those involved have been spoken to and advised accordingly.

“Officers have also met with teachers and students at the school and offered advice and guidance.”