Safer Internet Day

Today, throughout Europe, it is Internet Safety Day.

This annual event aims to promote the safer and more responsible use of Internet technologies.  Concerns over the safety of young people using the Internet has followed a number of cases where the Internet, including social networking sites have been used by abusers to ‘groom’ children and young people.   Safety campaigns have sought to find ways of protecting children and young people from adults who would do them harm.   However, as this year’s theme ‘Think Before you Post’ suggests, it is equally as important to equip young children with skills to protect themselves while using the Internet.  This also suggests that individual responsibility for your personal information is being promoted.

Safer Internet Day


Click Clever, Click Safe

Zip It, Block It, Flag It could become the Green Cross Code of the Internet following the launch this week of the UK Child Internet Safety Strategy.

Alongside the launch of a new digital code for young people’s use of the Internet: Zip It, Block It, Flag It was the announcement that Internet Safety is to become part of the national curriculum for Primary school children (it is already part of the curriculum for Secondary schools) from September 2011.

This is in recognition that the Internet is an important part of young people’s lives inside and outside of education.  In education ICT has held a central place since the launch of the National Grid for Learning in 1998 with this recently reinforced by the Rose Review of the Primary school curriculum which further highlighted the importance of the educational uses of ICT to primary school children.

Outside of education most children have some level of access to ICT in the home and children are going ‘online’ at a younger age.  Both parents and children report safety concerns with using the Internet and recent research by the DCSF found that just over half of those children who experienced harmful or inappropriate content took some action. 

Fears about Internet Safety are frequently voiced in the media in relation to the use of the Internet in the grooming and sexual abuse of children.  The Strategy therefore also details plans to update the ‘cyber skills’ of those working with children and provide guidance to Internet providers on how to ensure that children do not access inappropriate content. The Zip It, Block It, Flag It motto is designed as a reminder to young people to keep themselves safe online, while the CEOP reporting button, through which people can report  any ‘abuse’ or inappropriate content they encounter online  is to be further developed.

Waterloo Road – Web hacking and amateur sleuthes

Episode 6 of this series of Waterloo Road highlighted once again some of the issues that are associated with schools.

Until now there had been no suggestion that Christopher Mead, the new deputy head was a sex symbol.  However almost right from the start pupils were videoing him as he bent down to pick up a conveniently dropped folder and before long the clip was pasted onto the School website under the ‘Meet the Teacher’ pages.  This didn’t say a great deal for the Internet security policy of the school, and the Head teacher when informed didn’t exactly react swiftly, preferring to admonish the teacher in question and not mentioning the pupils responsible.    Perhaps Waterloo Road might like to consult BECTA for advice on securing the school’s Internet connection, it could consider revising its Internet access policy, presuming it has one, of course.

In defense of the Rachel Mason, the Head Teacher, she was rather busy playing at being amateur detective in the case of Lindsay James’ the pupil whose mother has killed her father in mysterious circumstances.  Rachel Mason invited Mrs James’ solicitor into school and then tried to extract from Lindsay information that might help her mother.    Eventually, after spending the day accusing Mr Mead of being a paedophile  Lindsay disclosed to an unsuspecting Rachel Mason that her father had been sexually abusing her.   Immediately after hearing this distressing information, Rachel Mason went off to the pub with deputy, Christopher Mead, who is no longer accused of being a child sex offender.  Maybe she had forgotten to call the local  Child Protection Unit, pondering that she would have to call the ‘designated officer’ the next day, if she knew who that was, of course. 

Still, what this episode did highlight was the issues that schools have to deal with,  a sentiment shared, in this episode by Christopher Mead after discovering why Vicki MacDonald was really trying to accuse him of sexual harassment.  Max Tyler, the new Executive Head, of course felt that pupils came to school to leave all their problems behind.

Of course schools don’t exist in a vacuum, as has been highlighted in Waterloo Road countless times.  It is strange however that in one episode that many of the difficult home backgrounds of pupils can be resolved.