Before Christmas, the Department of Education announced new measures to protect children from cyber bullying, access to pornography and online radicalisation.
The proposals included:
The measures have been welcomed by a number of bodies including the National Association of Head Teachers. The DfE will also be working with a number of other partners including the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and the National Crime Agency CEOP Command to update resources for parents and a new online training package will be launched for health professionals to assist them with handling online risks.
However, questions have to be raised about the timing and how effective these measures will be? Releasing consultation details about the proposed measures three days before Christmas is surely not the best time to engage with practitioners as they take their deserved rest after a hard term. In addition, the focus on producing new resources for parents seems a little misguided when Vodafone and other organisations produce valuable magazines and leaflets which cover the same ground.
Great strides have been made over the past eight years with internet safety in the UK, but these latest measures seem to go over old ground and represent nothing new. Compared to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (https://esafety.gov.au/) in Australia who provide a vast array of updated resources for schools and parents, there seems to be a lot of duplication with the current measures.
In recent staff training, I showed the CEOP educational film, ‘Jigsaw’. It is over five years old, but it still gets many educational professionals concerned about what parents should be doing to protect their children. One staff member spoke about how this should be shown in doctors surgeries and on primetime television. In many ways, there needs to be a united strategy from the public and commercial sector so that it is not only schools who are targeting parents with the positive e-safety message.
As I visit educational establishments, there are many comments for practitioners that they are concerned about the impact of unmonitored use of devices by toddlers and young children. There needs to be a real focus from policy makers to look at how to provide more support for parents as they support their children in the digital world.
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