School e-safety practice and the Unicef Rights of the Child legislation

I come from a Rights Respecting School, and part of the objectives of this accreditation is to ensure students are au fait with the responsibilities associated with such rights. Internet Safety ties in to numerous sections of the Unicef Rights of the Child legislation which can be used to prompt some useful guidance for conduct around e-safety in schools.

What do schools need to do against the articles of legislation?

Article 13: Freedom of Expression
What schools need to do: Encourage safe practice to share & express views, while reiterating responsibility for the effect this may have on others. Ensuring expressions are shared in safe format, working against cyber bullying.

Article 15: Freedom of Association
What schools need to do: Ensure children are aware of safety and security issues involved with online friendships, chat rooms, virtual worlds games, dangers of alternate realities and paedophilia, what to look for.

Article 16: Right to Privacy
What schools need to do: Ensure children are aware of how to employ privacy settings for online media (particularly social networking), link to cyber bullying.

Article 17: Right to access information & mass media
What schools need to do: Ensure students aware of how to search online safely, danger signs, potential scamming / phishing / virus mails.

Written by Jo Debens on March 25, 2013 14:58

The Teacher View - using technology in the classroom

So following on from my recent post on how students perceived e-safety, I’ve also done a survey of staff in school, in order to find out how teachers perceive the current risks and how they use technology.

I'm a big advocate of online tools, I'm a sucker for signing up to find out what it's all about (then deleting my profile when I never use it of course), but as an ICT Teacher I’m also aware of the inherent risks of what I put online and how I am perceived. I think this is a big issue for teachers as pre-Internet you used to be a bit uncomfortable if a student saw you out at the weekend, now they can find out all they want an more with a bit of work on Google!

A lot of staff realise the use of ICT and social media tools and how they could be used in education to enhance lessons, however are very aware that the students probably know more than they do about how to interact with these media. There are some brilliant ideas out there of how to embed media into subjects like history, like this one from Fractus Learning, but there is a lot of mis-information and lack of training. Teachers when asked were really keen to use the media (65% of my school wanted ideas on how to embed social media in the classroom), but it was also felt that there was a trepidation and fear as to how to use it and "not get in trouble".

As an ICT Teacher, and tech enthusiast I feel like I have a bit of a leg up in this area, and I discuss how other schools have done work like this via my twitter account. Yes, I have a YouTube channel for uploading video, I have also set up a school twitter feed, but was very careful as to how I did this in order to make sure I was transparent in its use. Read about how I did it.

Recently I’ve been using the 360safe website in order to analyse how schools can embed social media technology in the school and as long as there is clear, laid out policies and advice on how to implement the tools, then this can avoid issues.

As one of my colleagues so brilliantly put it: "Technology should NOT be demonized as it is full of great good things for the kids - and I know they have to be aware and parents too - but I think we should fill their heads with the good it holds rather than be majorly focused on the bad that could happen! "

In this world of social media, schools must look to making sure that there is policy and advice for teachers using these tools to enhance student's education, but also to make sure that teachers and staff are trained to avoid issues that can come with using websites that are not developed and run by the school.

Written by Ben Gristwood on March 25, 2013 14:59

What is ask.fm?

ask.fm is an online question and answer website, which has been in the news recently due to links to cyberbullying and two tragic teen suicides in Ireland. So why is the site so controversial?

Anonymity. It is sad but true that people are far more likely to post negative or abusive comments online if they are able to do so anonymously. Ask.fm allows users to do this, meaning that anyone can say anything they want. As a result you get posts such as “why are you boring and stupid?” (posted onto the profile of a teenage girl), “who would you f**k at our school?” (on the profile of a teenage boy) and “One good reason you should live” (on the profile of a 16 year old girl).

Tip: If your students use ask.fm, recommend that the ability to answer anonymous questions is disabled in their account settings.

Unmoderated content. As you can tell from the questions above, the site is not moderated, so there is no-one sitting in ask.fm’s office with responsibility for removing offending posts. As they state in their terms and conditions “You understand that in using the ask.fm service you may encounter content that may be deemed objectionable, obscene or in poor taste, which content may or may not be identified as having explicit language. The ask.fm service allows for anonymous content which ask.fm does not monitor. You agree to use the ask.fm service at your own risk and that ask.fm shall have no liability to you for content that you may find objectionable, obscene or in poor taste.”

Minimum age. The minimum age to use the site is 13, two years younger than Facebook. This inevitably means that children younger than 13 are using the site. This is the core of the controversy around ask.fm - presenting young teens with the opportunity to post online in an unmoderated environment where they can post anonymously is asking for trouble.

ask.fm is the brainchild of web entrepreneur Mark Terebin, who is based in Latvia. In the face of media criticism of his site, he has denied any responsibility, blaming a lack of “…values in families and schools” for the bullying, suicides and suicide attempts linked to ask.fm. The website, he claims is “…just a tool which helps people to communicate with each other, same as any other social network, same as phone, same as piece of paper and pen.”

ask.fm lesson

Talk to your students about ask.fm, and ask them if they understand why the site is in the news. Use it as a discussion point on the topic of online safety and cyberbullying, and encourage the students to challenge the way the site works if they think it is wrong, or could be improved. Use the site as a way of exploring issues and asking the questions:


  • Can online comments really make someone suicidal?

  • Why do people post negative comments online?

  • What do they think of Mark Terebin's comments about the site?

  • Should ask.fm be banned from school networks?


ask.fm into policy and practice

The outcome of these discussions could be incorporated into your school e-safety policy, or students could draft recommendations to be emailed to parents who may be concerned about this issue.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on March 25, 2013 14:59


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