This was the warning of the Waterloo Road pupils this week.  Indeed Helen Hopewell did get it when a group of pupils turned up on her doorstep for an impromptu party, ruining her quiet night in with a rather large glass of red wine.

The pupils had discovered Miss Hopewell’s home address through her social networking site.  As one of the pupils, Michaela White commented, “has she never heard of security?” Clearly not.  This scenario is interesting in the context of recent campaigns over Internet Safety for children.

In Waterloo Road, at least, it would appear that young people have a greater awareness of Internet Safety than do adults. Certainly, Internet Safety campaigns are focused on young people, having being identified as being particularly vulnerable to online grooming from paedophiles.  Yet in Waterloo Road it was Miss Hopewell who could clearly of benefitted from memorising the motto of the Government’s recent Internet Safety campaign: Zip It, Block It, Flag It.

Hopewell’s lack of knowledge of web privacy also highlighted the issue that a number of teachers have to face when using social networking sites such as facebook.  In a recent poll by Teachers TV, almost half of teachers were concerned that pupils might be able to access their personal information through social networking sites.  The advice is use privacy settings, or, alternatively don’t use social networking sites at all.

However a number of recent news reports indicates that maybe adults, and it this case teachers are in need of some ‘Internet Safety’ awareness training.  Consider the case earlier this year of Sonya McNally who was suspended from Humberston School in North East Lincolnshire for expressing negative comments about her class through facebook.  Then there was the case of Phil Ryan, a now retired science teacher from Liverpool who performed a ‘funky chicken’ dance as an end of term treat for his pupils, only to find it posted, by his pupils on YouTube.  Interestingly the Daily Mail’s story on this, headlined Humiliation of science teacher’s Funky Chicken dance in class highlights YouTube threat,embedded the very clip while simultaneously highlighting the “threat” of Internet technology.

The Government’s Teachernet website gives advice to teachers on cyber bullying and harassment of teachers by pupils, suggesting that they use search engines to check what information is accessible to the public.  Maybe Helen Hopewell should have taken the free advice publicly available on teachernet.

Though Waterloo Road is fiction, and is often way off an accurate representation of reality, Internet Safety is clearly not just an issue for children.


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