Safer Internet Day 2016

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By One Education
on 09 February, 2016

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February 9th is Safer Internet Day. One Education is playing its part – are you?

Safer internet day is raising awareness to inspire a kind, respectful and inclusive internet, and help raise awareness about the issue of online hate. The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

It is widely acknowledged that the internet is a valuable resource for entertainment, making friends, keeping in touch and learning. Yet the internet poses new risks to children and young people and new challenges from those working to protect them.

One of the main challenges we face is that children and young people often have unsupervised internet access, which is exploited by predators creating virtual identities and contacting children via online communities. Children also have greater exposure to viral clips glamorising risky behaviours, such as drinking and drug taking and violent behaviours such as 'happy slapping' and online hate, such as cyberbullying and racism.

Children who are victims of online abuse such as cyberbullying and racism can feel very isolated and may not identify it as a form of abuse. Their personal and private space can be invaded 24 hours, seven days a week and the audience can be very large and reached rapidly.

ChildLine reports that it saw 4,507 cases of cyberbullying in 2012-13 up from 2,410 in 2011-12. They also report that there was a significant increase in racist bullying with more than 1,400 children saying they were experiencing problems compared with 861 the year before.

Alarmingly, the above risks can have a devastating impact on children and young people. The NSPCC highlight that where online abuse is a key factor in serious case reviews, children died or were seriously injured as a result of:

  • child sexual abuse and exploitation,
  • the distribution of online images of sexual abuse,
  • suicide following cyberbullying.

So how can schools help?

Ultimately, we can’t and shouldn’t stop children and young people from using the internet. But we can educate children and young people on e-safety, ‘netiquette’ and encourage them to talk about what they do online and who they communicate with. Learning about e-safety is a vital life skill. Empowering children at an early age to use the internet safely and giving them the knowledge to safeguard themselves and their personal information is something that needs to be nurtured throughout school to see them into adult life.

Ofsted highlight that when it comes to e-safety, schools should take a whole school approach to embed e-safety within the curriculum, for example in assemblies, PHSE and tutorial time. Schools should have robust e-safety policies integrated with behaviour, safeguarding and anti-bullying policies. Such policies should be regularly reviewed by the school governors and amended to reflect any changes in technology. It is also vital that staff in schools should be fully trained on e-safety and schools should have a recognised internet service provider with an age appropriate filter.

As with all safeguarding issues, meticulous records should also be kept of online safety issues and there must be clear incident reporting procedures. Schools should publicise ways online abuse can be reported including, but not exclusively, through the student council, peer reporting and anonymous reporting. It is also good practice to support parents in e-safety practices at home and evaluate prevention strategies through annual surveys of pupil incidences, and parent satisfaction surveys.

In summary, the internet can be a good source of knowledge, education, social interaction and entertainment for children and young people. Schools have a responsibility to ensure e-safety is instilled in children and young people and that if an incident occurs, they feel confident that schools can support them.
Play your part on safer internet day to create a better, safer online community!

Top tips to help children stay safe online:

  • Always tell a trusted adult if you feel uncomfortable or worried about anything you come across online.
  • Keep personal details such as your name, address, location, e-mail, school, family details, contact numbers and friend’s names private. Check your privacy settings regularly.
  • Use strong passwords and never share them with anyone and remember to change them often.
  • Don’t post anything that might embarrass you at a later date, once it’s out there, it’s no longer private and you won’t have control of it.
  • Think carefully before sending pictures of yourself or friends. Once uploaded, anyone can change it or share it.
  • If you have a webcam, unplug it or point it to the wall when you’re not using it.
  • Remember stranger danger applies online! People aren’t always who they say they are.
  • No matter how well you think you know someone online, never arrange to meet up with an online friend.
  • Emails or attachments which come from people or sources you do not know may contain viruses so don’t open them.
  • Remember that what you see on the internet may not be true, so always question it and use reputable websites when researching.

Top tips to stay safe from cyberbullying:

  • Stay safe online, be responsible and make sure that your activities don’t cause anyone else harm.
  • If you are being bullied, talk to a trusted adult and get help, they will be able to support you.
  • Never respond or retaliate to any messages, this can often make things worse. Keep the messages as evidence and show them to a trusted adult.
  • Block the bully’s email address, phone number and delete them from your social media contacts.
  • Report their activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any websites they use to target you.
  • Make a note of the dates and times of bullying messages, along with any details you have about the sender’s ID and the URL.
  • Don’t pass on cyberbullying videos or messages.
  • Think carefully before sending pictures of yourself or friends. Once uploaded, anyone can change it or share it.
  • If you’re being bullied repeatedly, think about changing your user ID, nickname or profile.
  • Don’t ignore it. If you see cyberbullying going on, report it and offer your support.

Children can ring ChildLine on 0800 1111 and speak to trained counsellors about any problems they may face. You can also visit the Childline website for help and advice. One Education offer a range of safeguarding support, including E-Safety training for staff, which can also be delivered to parents and students). 

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