This post was published in July 2009 and may contain facts or opinion that are no longer current.

Jack Waterhouse

Earlier this week, news that Nottinghamshire teacher Peter Harvey was arrested for the attempted murder of one of his students broke. BBC News is now reporting that he’s been remanded in custody.

Regardless of what you make of the story, it should be obvious that details are a little sketchy; things have only been going for a few days or so, and nothing major has got out yet.

Nevertheless, some people have managed to prove their stupidity by offering completely unwanted and idiotic opinions on social networking sites like Facebook. Here’s a couple that made me cringe:

Jack Waterhouse looks like a little shit that deserves beatings.

– from the Facebook group of the same name, by one Scott Haynes.

You are a hero to the average, respectable, working man. Kick these little gobshites back to their chavy council estates. Another fooking kid whose mother is sponging off the state

Phil Mcavity

Jack Waterhouse is almost certainly a fresh-mouthed little smart arse that needed a good slapping. I blame the (single) mother.

John Fitzgerald

Apologies for the language and distasteful comments, but I wanted to get this across. Why people think they have a right to do this on the Internet is totally beyond me - it’s not even like they’re doing it because of anonymity. It’s ridiculous; part of me hopes it’s illegal, because frankly I’d love to see what would happen if some of these people had legal proceedings taken against them.

Oh, I couldn’t help but update this post after seeing the latest comment on the original group, linked above:

He looks like a right cheeky shit , unaware of who his father is.. what the class put that teacher through was awful, no respect at all

That from Jake William James French of Coquet High School, Newcastle. No offence Jake, but if we’re judging based on looks–as I’d guess you yourself are–your profile picture doesn’t seem much better.

13th July, 1am: I keep telling myself there’s no point arguing with trolls, and there’s no point arguing with idiots. I need to spend less time on Facebook, before it drives me insane. Joe Jimothy, from the lovely state of Pennsylvania, has this to say:

In my country we would have stoned him.

Really, Joe? Stoning’s legal in the US, is it? Moron.


By Ste on 12 July 2009 at 17:59:

I have to agree. I’ve been stunned by the bile and hatred directed towards this lad with no real evidence of what he’s supposed to have done. So far as the press has told us, he got into a shouting match with the teacher. Methinks this does not justify GBH but apparently most of the population (and even teachers) disagree with me. I’m especially amazed by the teaching profession’s reaction where instead of waiting for the trial they’ve used it as an excuse to talk about workplace stress and how evil kids are. Similarly political trolls are using it to justify bringing back national service/the cane/regular beatings for boys with spikey hair etc. The reactions to this case have destroyed any faith I had in the English as an intelligent people…

By Stu on 12 July 2009 at 22:41:

Bigotry makes you look like a shit Ste. Your poorly based, biased statement is discredited by your last remark of loosing faith in “the English as an intelligent people.” Learn social evolution.

By Chris on 12 July 2009 at 22:53:


I agree with you about the distastefulness about these comments, and, yes, they are unacceptable. No matter if the teacher was provoked or otherwise, his response was unacceptable, and those who think otherwise should be ashamed of themselves.

However, I do take issue when you say that “part of [you] hopes it’s illegal” to say these things. I object to this because freedom of speech is such an important basic right that under no circumstances should anyone have legal proceedings taken against them for something they’ve said. Whilst this does allow some idiots to spew forth vile things, it is a small price to pay for the much larger pay-off of living in a relatively free society. Just because someone seems to be wrong doesn’t mean that we can withhold their right to speak. Whether we choose to listen is another matter.

I’m not sure if you said this in jest, but I shall assume you meant it seriously. I apologise if I come off too preachy, but it is a serious point, and I hope you can understand where I’m coming from.

By Alex Muller on 13 July 2009 at 02:08:

Chris: I take your point, and I’m not sure what the nice middle ground is; I’m just not happy with the idea that anybody can publicly defame (that’s not quite right, but I’m no lawyer so I’m not sure what the correct terminology is) somebody else with no repercussions whatsoever. At the absolute minimum, Facebook should be taking more action against these comments than they currently are.

Thinking more about this, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s happened on a “communal” site which is bothering me. I don’t think I’d care quite as much if they were doing it on their on websites; I’m not sure why, that’s only a thought I had just now.

By Edd on 13 July 2009 at 19:42:

Re: Stu on Ste- what is this bigotry you’re speaking about? Am a little curious as currently the Jack Waterhouse page is even nastier and one of the posters (“Phil”) is popping up on the official Mr Harvey group. A lot of the posts there are also along the lines of “Little shit deserved it”. Now, you may not see this as a problem, but when the Facebook-hating Mail get hold of it they’re bound to run with the story and it’ll get picked up by the US papers - via Drudge who loves posting alarmist Mail stories. Before you know it the foreign press will be full of “Brit Internet nerds laugh at assaulted child - say its okay to beat kids half to death”, and then the whole country will be portrayed as morons in the eyes of the world. It’s not going to be good.

By … on 20 July 2009 at 15:21:

i think its unfair that people think this as they ave no idea of what actually happened…i attend that school and know jack waterhouse and think that what people say is totally unfair and i think its true that it would be totaly different if it was there child that got beat by a teacher people make me sick!

By Jordan on 21 July 2009 at 19:03:

I think this is distasteful to be frank. Everybody knows how teachers are treated like shit. I go to that school too and that was my teacher. He was a good teacher and a good man too. I’m not a idiot as you’re probably going to call me from now on because I argued with you all and said that you’re all wrong, but it’s pretty obvious that when somebody is treated like that for so long, they are going to break, you claim that talking to idiots on facebook is going to send you insane, imagine trying to teach 11 to 18 year old kids who think they are better than you, for little money and no reward at the end of it. If i was Peter Harvey I would have done the same thing and fucking harder too.

By john on 27 July 2009 at 16:45:

Nice one Jordan - agree 100%

By Noogie on 27 July 2009 at 18:56:

Can not believe u said that jordan. what you said about lower salary and nasty kids can not be a excuse to beat the shit out of a kid or any kid…..

OK pupils of that age can be very nasty, but there are many ways to control unacceptable behaviour, as a proffessional teacher you ought to know this.

Why they let him teaching anyway? A person who is called a ticking time bomb because of stress gives signals to his environments. Why didn’t his fellow workers picking up these signals and putting him non active?

let me remind you people:

a good teacher never beats children!!!!!


physics teacher

By Jessica on 01 August 2009 at 18:35:

A Teachers job is to be a role model, and show children how they will be expected to behave in the future. This is their vocation and what they will be paid to do. Teachers know the job involves a great deal of patience and teaching their subject formas just a small part of theit role. As adults we have to teach younger generations that violence is never appropriate. If a teacher stoops to this level then he is not suitable to teach.

By Flex on 12 August 2009 at 14:44:

I agree entirely, a teacher should not cross that line. As other commenters have said, they are meant to be role models. I found this example of other online hatred:

By Pingu on 22 September 2009 at 23:02:

Wrong Jordan, we are going to call you AN idiot, for forgetting one of the most basic grammar rules ever. In the history of mankind. Seriously. Epic Fail. Kill it with fire.

By Anon on 19 January 2010 at 00:09:


Just came across this blog and thought I’d make a few comments. I attended this school for 5 years and Peter Harvey was my physics teacher for 3 of them. I am by no means defending his actions OR Jack’s but there is no denying that this teacher was a good one. Yes, he was not the best teacher but he was one of the older, more well respected teachers within the school and the local communtiy. He was always willing to have a laugh but he knew where to draw the line and expected his pupils to work (thats how he got results). As I still have siblings in the school I have heard more RUMOURS than most. Mr Harvey was apparently very ill prior to this event occuring and was probably not fully recovered when he returned to continue with his post. Irrelevant of Jack’s background and track record he did not deserve what happened that day (whatever ‘that’ was). However pupils should have respect for thier teachers and if the rumours are true then both his and his classmates behaviour to a TEACHER was highly unacceptable. If this event has highlighted some problems that teachers have to face then I think they should be listened too. I have experienced many a lesson where teachers and substitute teachers have been subjected to all sorts of behaviour even reducing one (male) teacher to tears. This is not acceptable and maybe all of these people who have absolutely no idea what actually went on (NB. I’m not saying that I do) should keep their awful opinions to themselves-for the sake of both sides of this event. I only feel sorry for Mr Harvey that such a brilliant career has been ruined by the acts of some very cruel children and an unfortunate lack of self-control.

By Lady Di on 27 April 2010 at 06:56:

I can’t be certain that the boy needed a good kicking. What is certain is that, had he died, we would not be missing a cure for cancer. I find the entire story hugely entertaining - this teacher is (literally) fighting the idiot culture in Britain. Of course he needs to be tried and convicted of GBH, must never teach again, but can’t you see the funny side?

By Max_Normal on 29 April 2010 at 15:27:

Clearly, this child was part of a group of pupils that were instrumental in driving a teacher with an exemplary record into having a nervous breakdown. He probably did not deserve the injuries that he received, but in a way, this was bound to happen sooner or later, and will certainly happen again.

Children should never, never be empowered to attack adults, particularly teachers who should hold a position of respect. This is a real problem all over our society. If anything, the boy (and his piers) is a victim of the governments enforced lack of discipline in schools, terrible parenting, and a general decline in mutual respect in British society. He cannot really be fully blamed for what he conspired to do: mentally torture a human being until he was literally driven mad.

Although the boy is a victim in this, I feel slightly more for the teacher. He could see that his career was over. He was a weak and easy target for the baying feral kids because of depression and illness and caring for his life partner. Something had to break, if not this, probably he would have taken his own life. I hope the boy makes a good recovery and learns from this, I hope that the judge goes easy on Mr. Harvey.

By Spike on 30 April 2010 at 03:44:

I suggest updating the original post with full information as the case has now concluded. Although I do not agree with the language used in the original posts from facebook, especially as the only real information they had to go on was a picture of Jack Waterhouse. However, on this occasion it appears the trolls were in fact correct in their comments.

The case has now finished and it appears Jack Waterhouse was part of a group of students who, knowing of the teachers fragile mental state, conspired to push him over the edge for the purpose of recording it on a cellphone to then distribute for their own amusement, and to humiliate the teacher. This to me is the very definition of evil.

Thankfully the court saw the incident for what it really was, a group of inherently evil children pushing a fragile man too far. The following violent incident was a result of “their” actions not the teachers. Having already served 8 months in custody the teacher will be released. It is good to see common sense prevailing once in a while.

By penelope keith on 24 May 2010 at 12:06:

Kids always push the boundaries…. that is fact, however this wet, soft, pathetic ‘little angel’ centred society has to wake up!! These are CHILDREN…… they need to know and will be happier when they know they are LESS important than ADULTS and should RESPECT ADULTS……When the hell did we start calling them STUDENTS!!

Children need clear boundaries…… and some children will only listen to fear. BRING BACK CORPORAL PUNSHMENT FOR GOD’S (AND OUR< AND THE CHILDREN"S) SAKE!!

Pay teachers more and allow them to have some physical contact….. I was often lead by the ear or little finger under excruciating pain when I'd pushed the mark…….It's the natural way of doing things……. Maybe not the FEMALE way but it works!

Boys need discipline and in teaching a clip round the ear saves valuable TIME currently wasted in all schools following slip systems/detention and the like.

Penelope Keith (ex teacher)

By caroline on 31 May 2010 at 13:08:

One thing that strikes me about many comments made about this incident is how many commentators are taking sides one way or another, including you Alex. The whole issue needs to be seen from a more removed standpoint to draw some useful conclusions and possible future actions to prevent it happening again. The teacher here obviously had some mental health issues very much related to the goading of his pupils and he can’t be entirely left to blame for his actions but neither can it be right that misbehaving pupils (no matter how badly behaved) are subject to physical violence. There are much wider concerns to consider here than the particulars of this incident and they aren’t going to be solved by an armchair critic such as myself (or many others posting here). Two salient points to consider are:

  1. The amount and type of support and backup that teachers get within the school (not just outside it from counsellors or unions) on a day-to-day basis for dealing with their pupils/students. Is there a coherent national strategy on this or is this done on a school-by-school basis?

  2. What kind of support is available to misbehaving pupils? Their behaviour can come from many background causes and isn’t usually just down to being ‘bad apples’. I know that many pupils with problems in school will often have social and emotional problems at home and outside of school; this doesn’t excuse the behaviour at all but what processes and services are routinely dealing with this?

By aaron on 08 June 2011 at 14:05:

His name is now jack goddard and He is a massive arsehole…. thinks He is ten men.

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From 10PM on Saturday July 11, 2009

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