Safer Internet Day 2014

SID LogoHere at E-safety Support we are delighted to support the Safer Internet Day (SID), organised in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre.

The theme for Safer Internet Day 2014 is ‘Let’s create a better internet together’. This theme covers the responsibility that all users have in making the internet a better place. Whether children and young people, parents and carers, educators or social care workers, or indeed industry, decision makers or politicians, everyone has a role to play.

In championing a better internet, the theme recognises the balance between encouraging users to embrace and empowering them to make the most of the positive opportunities offered online, while responding to, dealing with and moving past the negative online.

The internet is such a part of everyday life that it is easy to forget how relatively new the environment is. Consequently it is also easy to be complacent about internet safety; surely our ‘digital native’ youth know what they are doing? But in reality there is an internet knowledge gap and indeed internet safety knowledge gap between the generations. So it is vital that our educators as well as their students are aware of the dangers the enable them to safely benefit from the positives.

It is also important to remember that we as users are contributing to the online environment too, so we also ensure that when we do interact online (as we would in the offline world), that we do so as responsible citizens. Education about cyber antics which can begin innocently but lead onto more serious bullying situations is key.
There are ways in which all users can contribute:

Children and young people can help to create a better internet by being kind and respectful to others online and seeking positive and safe opportunities to create, engage and share online.

Parents and carers can help to create a better internet by maintaining an open and honest dialogue with their children about their online lives, supporting them with their online activity (as appropriate to their age), particularly any concerns and issues, and seeking out positive opportunities to share with their children online. They can help to respond to the negative by modelling positive online behaviours themselves, and by also reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find.

Educators and social care workers can help to empower children and young people to embrace the positive by equipping them with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world, and giving them opportunities to use – and create – positive content online. They can help to respond to the negative by supporting youngsters if they encounter problems online, and by giving them the confidence and skills to seek help from others.

Safer Internet Day Resources
E-safety Support has many resources which can help teach, learn and practice online safety for the whole school community, including our Safer Internet Day 2014 Assemblies for primary schools and secondary schools, which are available to download by joining as a E-safety Support Free Member (Premium and Premium Plus members can also download the assemblies from their E-safety Support Dashboard).

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on January 07, 2014 16:01

E-safety Dynamic and Proactive Policies, Practices and Procedures through Dedicated Time for Lead Teachers

E-safety, as an aspect of the school curriculum, is a dynamic entity and an essential component in safeguarding.

Consequently, e-safety policies and practices can be viewed as having two strands. First of all, known risks in relation to privacy, contact with strangers and accessing inappropriate material (such as violence, pornography and hate sites, for example) remain a constant. In one respect, the key messages that need to be communicated to children are static and unchanging. For instance, not divulging personal details and contact information via social media and networking websites and the steps children can take when confronted with online material and communications that make them feel uncomfortable.

However, the rate of technological developments and digital applications demands e-safety policies and practices need to evolve and progress as and when new issues and concerns surface. It is this balance between static, or core e-safety education (which can be covered as a series of planned assemblies, an appropriate scheme of work and day-to-day highlighting of issues), and an appropriate reactive and proactive response, the non-static nature of e-safety, that poses the significant challenge for schools.

Let us take a relatively recent example. Sending photographs via text message, email and sharing online through social networking websites has been with us for a while now. It is reasonable to suggest that the potential for images to be copied, altered, forwarded and put into the public domain (whether for positive purposes or driven by more malicious intentions) is known and understood. With the advent of Snapchat, digital communications can be sent with the assurance they will effectively ‘self-destruct’ after several seconds and be deleted from devices and servers. Schools are then in the position of needing to rapidly respond to a form of digital communication and sharing of media that has the potential to undermine previous work with children on e-safety: if the evidence of cyber-bullying or inappropriate communications doesn’t exist, then all that is left is the impact on victims and the courage of others not to act as bystanders.

So, where does the static and dynamic model of e-safety leave those who develop policies and practices in school? Clearly, there is a need for the lead on e-safety to have sufficient time to be able to respond to more established issues in this area as well as emerging issues or anticipated safeguarding problems by having a current knowledge and understanding of technological and digital developments.

An e-safety policy should acknowledge that the lead has dedicated time to ensuring practices are proactive and not simply reactive. There is a need to protect time for the lead to regularly review and update Acceptable Use Policies for both staff and children as well as consider how parents and carers can be made aware of potential dangers and risks as technological and digital developments continue to progress at a rapid pace. Dissemination of information related to new risks and responsible use issues also requires the lead to invest time in continued professional development to ensure all colleagues have the knowledge and understanding to address e-safety.

Of course, stating that e-safety policies and procedures are in place (from a dedicated lead with adequate time for the role through to parental engagement) is different from accounting for the impact of steps taken. Evidence of impact, both qualitative and quantitative, is necessary to evaluate the success of e-safety education within the school to inform future priorities and demonstrate to OFSTED that this area of safeguarding has a high profile and the policies, practices and procedures in place are embedded. Once again, this brings us back to the need for an e-safety lead with adequate time dedicated to this area of work in schools.

So, how can this be taken forward in practice? A good starting point is to audit the current position using the questions below. Where an aspect is not in place or needs review and attention, then this should form the basis of action planning and projecting the time necessary to address these areas for development.

  • Is there a dedicated e-safety lead in place?

  • Does the school have an e-safety policy? Is it updated on a regular basis and in response to emerging issues?

  • Is there acceptable use document for children? What about a user agreement for staff?

  • Has there been staff training related to e-safety? Does this include all staff groups? For example, teachers, leadership and management as well as support staff.

  • Is there a proactive approach to getting e-safety messages across to children? For example, a planned series of assemblies, a scheme of work and so on.

  • Are parents and carers involved in the school’s e-safety work?
  • By establishing a baseline in relation to these areas, formulating a plan of action, schools can therefore progress towards stronger e-safety provision and develop clarity in the impact on the school, staff, pupils and parents and carers.



    If you would like to share your thoughts on the issues raised in this article, please let us know by using the comments section below

    Written by Jazz Williams on November 28, 2013 11:36

    Beware of the Trolls

    The media has recently highlighted the case of Caroline Criado-Perez - a feminist campaigner and journalist who, after successfully campaigning for a woman's face to appear on bank notes, was subjected to a torrent of abusive posts on 'Twitter', including threats of rape, from male internet 'trolls'.

    But what is 'trolling'? Who are the trolls and why do they behave in such a way online? How can they be stopped; indeed can they be stopped?

    The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘troll’ as someone who “...submits a deliberately provocative posting to an online message board (or some form of social media) with the aim of inciting an angry response.” It is regarded as a type of cyber bullying and can take a number of forms:

    • As a consequence of her bank notes campaign and her well known feminist stance, Ms. Criado-Perez was targeted with no less than 50 extremely abusive tweets an hour allegedly by a group of men who co-ordinate attacks on women.

    • In 2010 a man posted a “menacing” message on Twitter threatening to blow up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire.

    • In 2011, a 25 year old unemployed man, posted offensive videos and messages onto Facebook tribute pages mocking the deaths of teenagers.

    • In 2012, Nicola Brookes received “vicious and depraved” comments on Facebook after she posted her support for a former ‘X Factor’ contestant who left the show the previous year. The anonymous trolls went so far as to create a fake Facebook profile in Miss. Brookes’ name, using her picture, on which they posted explicit comments and other offensive content.

    Admittedly, these examples are extreme cases, however, trolling can be seen everyday on any social platform. Browse the responses to any Facebook or Twitter posting by the BBC, Guardian or any other news organisation and it is highly likely that you will come across a Troll’s comments, characterised by their intentionally extreme and contentious point of view and frequently containing foul and vile language with the sole aim of annoying other contributors or better still provoking them to react by making a responding comment.

    So, trolling is a broad term that encompasses everything from a mischievous provocation to threats of violence or rape, but what drives someone to become a troll?

    Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University stated to the BBC that “...online, people feel anonymous and disinhibited. They lower their emotional guard and in the heat of the moment either troll reactively or proactively.” He also added that trolls are usually young adult males who either seek amusement from boredom or revenge.

    However, a quick browse of any football, music or other fan site will uncover people of all ages and gender subjecting others to the most venomous and vicious attacks. Comedian Dom Joly was the victim of a devious troll with nine different online identities - she was a 14-year old girl.

    It would therefore appear to be the pretense of anonymity, that the Internet apparently provides, which is key reason why people, who normally conduct themselves pleasantly and responsibly in the real world, feel that they can participate in offensive behaviour in the virtual world.

    If recent reports in the media are to believed, ‘trolling’ is a phenomenon that is on the increase and there are growing calls for something for it to be stopped, but can this be done and if so how?

    In response to the virulent abuse that Caroline Criado-Perez received, a petition was set up that received tens of thousands of signatures, including the names of prominent politicians and celebrities, to urge ‘Twitter’ to take “a zero tolerance policy” and include an option button that could be used to report unacceptable abusive behaviour on its platform.

    But should the policing of online discussions and debates be left to the social media platforms themselves? Is there a requirement for increased monitoring and prosecution by the police and the courts or could this be seen as an infringement of free-speech?

    So far, two men have been arrested in the case of Ms.Criado-Perez with the possibility of more. Sean Duffy and Colm Coss who both posted the offensive messages on tribute pages of people who had died, were both convicted and imprisoned in UK as was Paul Chambers, who ‘threatened’ to blow up Robin Hood Airport (the latter case was subsequently quashed on appeal at the High Court).

    As recent as June 2013, however, Kier Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, in an effort to “strike the right balance between freedom of expression and a need to uphold the law”, published guidelines for prosecutors who are taking on cases involving ‘grossly offensive communication’. Under these new guidelines prosecutions involving the posting of an offensive message could be considered unnecessary if the perpetrator “has expressed genuine remorse” or has “taken swift and effective action” to “remove the communication in question or otherwise block access to it”.

    Trolling is unpleasant, deeply offensive and upsetting. In one foolish moment it can devastate the lives of both the victim and, if prosecution ensues, the abuser. Yet, due to its perceived anonymity, young people can look upon trolling as having ‘a bit of a laugh’ at someone else’s expense, a way to get back at someone or to exert power over someone in order to garner popularity within a gang. As teachers we are in a perfect position to educate students and we should be willing to demonstrate that cyber-bullying behaviour such as trolling is unacceptable and can result in serious consequences that can have a lasting impact on the peoples lives.

    Here is a suggested classroom activity on trolling:

    Lesson Outcome: To be aware and understand the online phenomenon of trolling - what it is, why people do it and the potential consequences of the activity.

    The Scenario: Jane and Samantha are in a coffee shop. Samantha is talking sympathetically to Jane who has just told her that her dog died that morning. As the two women talk, a man rudely interrupts them and says:

    “I hate dogs and their owners, I’m really glad that yours has died that means that there is one less scrawny mutt walking the streets. And I bet you cried when it died didn’t you? You’re pathetic, it’s just a dog! I wish all dogs and their stupid owners would just go and die, you make me sick!” (you should adjust the language used here to suit your pupils)

    Activity: Ask students, if they think that what the man said was acceptable? What reaction do they think it had on Jane and Samantha?".

    If the man had posted such comments on Facebook or Twitter he would be ‘trolling’ and he would be regarded as a ‘troll’

    Students can now investigate in small groups what the terms ‘trolling’ and ‘troll’ mean. Why do people engage in ‘trolling’? Do they think it’s wrong or is it just having ‘a laugh’? Are there different types of ‘trolling’ and ‘trolls’ Is it illegal or just upsetting? What consequences can it have?

    Come together as a class and use what has been researched to discuss ‘trolling’ and ‘trolls’.

    Further information

    Below are some useful articles that teachers may wish to use to create lesson or assembly plans focusing on trolling:

    Wired - online aggression - An interesting piece focusing on the anonymity and disinhibition phenomenon that appears to contribute to people’s ability to become involved in trolling.

    The Telegraph - A Daily Telegraph article on the novel approach that classicist Prof. Mary Beard took when she was abused by a troll.

    The Guardian - A Guardian article on the different types of trolls, from the unsophisticated ‘abuse-hurlers’ to the more insidious and frightening examples.

    Written by Steve Gresty on August 01, 2013 13:24


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