A teacher says he can't return back to school after he was targeted by students on social media, leaving him "truly shocked and afraid".
UK teacher Tom Rogers was oblivious to a clip of him teaching being uploaded to TikTok by an anonymous account which was accompanied by damaging accusations. The video gaining thousands of views.
Mr Rogers believes the videos were circulated as part of a disturbing TikTok trend where teachers were falsely branded as paedophiles.
Earlier in November, Mr Rogers was alerted to the video by another teacher and he tried to get it removed and reported them to the police.
He said this TikTok account had shared three videos; two were about Mr Rogers and had taken pictures from his social media.
Text had been added over the videos and one reportedly accused him of touching children.
"Another said I 'touched children', asking: 'How many children do you touch? Thousands, millions?' With a sickening feeling, I spotted that the post had been viewed by 12,000 people," Mr Rogers told The Telegraph.
"I scrolled through the comments, a sea of ‘likes’ and cry-laugh emojis, some of which were posted by pupils from my school, with usernames I recognised.
"One of the commenters said I “touched [their] shoulder”. It was all very jokey and light-hearted; to them, it seemed like a big laugh. To me, it was far more serious."
Being falsely accused of being a paedophile can be extremely damaging and Mr Rogers revealed he started to worry about his future.
Mr Rogers told the BBC, this sort of abuse aimed at teachers could be the final straw after a tough ride through the pandemic.
"I think it's pushing some over the edge because of everything we've been through in the last two years," he said.
"They will quit their jobs, they will have to go off work with stress-related illness because of this. This will be the tipping point."
He believes a student of his shared the videos, but he doesn't know for sure and he can't think of a motive, though he admits to being a strict teacher.
Mr Rogers told The Telegraph the video was part of a TikTok trend where students "falsely" label their teachers as paedophiles and adulterers.
UK teachers' union, NASUWT, made a blog post about the teachers being harassed on social media, calling for the government to take further measures to protect them.
I know unions have written to tiktok and lots of schools have sent letters to parents warning them of further consequences if the abuse of teachers continues. I knew there would be implications for me to speaking out like I did but I also know it was the right thing to do.
— Tom Rogers (@RogersHistory) November 18, 2021
"The rapid rise in social media usage has brought new challenges in the classroom with teachers reporting that online abuse, harassment and bullying, including racist, sexist, homophobic and other derogatory comments posted anonymously online have become an epidemic," the union said.
"This is affecting staff as well as pupils."
Mr Rogers said he has not been back to work since, his doctor ordering him to stay home due to stress.
He is hopeful things will improve when he starts at a new job next year.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.