The Courier-Mail

Snapchat snares teachers

- BRITTANY VONOW

QUEENSLAND teachers are being suspended for engaging in inappropri­ate relationsh­ips with students online.

More than a dozen teachers have had their registrati­ons cancelled since 2009, not including those whose registrati­ons were cancelled due to criminal offences.

It comes as a 34-year-old Toowoomba State High School teacher was suspended last week and charged with two counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 after allegedly sending inappropri­ate Snapchats to a 15-year-old girl.

In June this year, the Queensland Civil Administra­tive Tribunal stripped another teacher of his registrati­on for sending inappropri­ate Snapchats to his students, as well as giving massages to his students while teaching drama in 2013.

The state school teacher was immediatel­y suspended after sending an image of himself captioned “Gym bitches!” and an image of his face, with two fingers held in a V, and his tongue poking through the centre of the V, captioned “Stahp it”.

In its ruling QCAT stated the community did not want teachers to be aloof but the teacher “took familiarit­y well beyond what was proper”.

“Teachers are expected to ... maintain profession­al boundaries in their dealings with students. He repeatedly fell short of these expectatio­ns.”

In Queensland, staff must have approval before contacting students through social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

A Department of Education spokesman said social media contact was limited to education and school-related matters. The department said it does not keep statistics on social media breaches but the Queensland College of Teachers said social media had been mentioned in the decisions to suspended 13 teachers since 2009.

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said teachers were not permitted to be Facebook friends with their students, with clear rules around behaviour with students.

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