Pupils have been humiliating teachers through the creation of embarrassing and harmful online content such as false dating profiles, according to a union boss.

Seamus Searson, general secretary at the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said he would not be surprised if the problem was occurring on a weekly basis at high schools.

It comes after UK-wide concern over young people using the TikTok social media platform to post what was described as “disgraceful abuse” of staff. Material included untrue accusations of paedophilia and homophobic slurs.

There was also evidence the issue had taken root north of the Border, with police contacted regarding “derogatory” videos being shared by pupils at Our Lady and St Patrick’s High, Dumbarton.

Meanwhile, Scottish Government officials say they are aware online safety organisations have approached TikTok and Instagram about “negative content” relating to teachers and schools.

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Mr Searson told The Herald that, although the TikTok issue appeared to have died down, irresponsible and potentially harmful use of social media was “always a problem” that “doesn’t really go away”.

And he warned risks were increasing due to remote learning and the growing popularity of digital parents’ evenings. 

He said: “The children are obviously taking photographs and they can take photographs in what might appear compromising situations.

“They also can then record teachers, and mix and match the voices, and can put those voices to pictures or videos. Then they can photoshop the pictures as well, put someone’s head on another person’s body. 

“Then, when you post it, it goes onto so many different platforms now. They could set up on some of the dating websites as well, putting teachers’ pictures in - I’ve heard of examples of it. But it’s the sort of thing that, you know, if you think about it, setting up somebody's profile, it's so easy to do, isn’t it?"

HeraldScotland: SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson warned social media misuse was a problem that "doesn't really go away".SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson warned social media misuse was a problem that "doesn't really go away".

Asked to comment on the frequency of social media misuse, Mr Searson said: “In every secondary school I’d imagine there’d be instances of this every week, possibly. 

“It’s dealt with on most occasions without too much of a fuss. But youngsters don’t always see the seriousness of some of the things that they do and that’s why this needs to be dealt with.

“It’s down to the schools in the first instance to ensure that pupils know the rights and wrongs of doing things. You’ve got the opportunity to use social media but you’ve got to do it responsibly. And I think schools, unfortunately, need to do it on a regular basis because children forget that sometimes. And it’s not just to teachers – they do it to each other."

Echoing Mr Searson, Jim Thewliss, general secretary at School Leaders Scotland, confirmed that concern over TikTok had dissipated.

However, he added: “I suspect there will still be some [misuse] going on. The other point to make is that, in November, it was new and we were not too sure of how to deal with it and how to respond to it. 

“From our point of view, our co-organisation south of the Border, the Association of School and College Leaders, got their lawyers to pick it up with government and there were bits and pieces done there with TikTok to make sure things got taken down. It had a high level of engagement at that point, which put a lot of it to rest.”

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A TikTok spokeswoman said: “We've already deployed additional technical measures and guidance, and we continue to proactively detect and remove violative content and accounts. 

"While anyone can report inappropriate content in-app, we also partner with the Professional Online Safety Helpline to provide teachers with an additional way to report content, and we have committed additional funding for this service in light of recent events. We have written to every school in the country to ensure all staff have access to the resources they need."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Regulatory responsibility for social media lies with the UK Government.

"The Scottish Government understands some of our regulatory partners – such as the UK Safer Internet Centre and Childnet International - have been in contact with TikTok and Instagram about negative content relating to teachers and schools.

“Children and young people learn about the safe and responsible use of different technologies, including the internet and social media, as part of their broad general education under Curriculum for Excellence.”