Is censorship of adult content the best way to educate children?

With the news this week that the Government is to impose ‘family-friendly’ restrictions on internet services, there are many welcoming the change. Any measures that can be implemented to help protect our children can only be a good thing.

But is, ‘family-friendly’ filtering there to stop the potentially corrupt and dangerous or is it there to stop the innocent? Children will be prevented from accessing adult content while the adults will have the ability to turn the filter off and view anything from the good to the bad and the frankly disturbing.

If we are worried that viewing adult material at a young age will have detrimental affects on today’s youth, do we take the option of tackling the situation head on or is a prohibitive approach the better option? Do we help them to learn what is right and what is wrong (as we would with many other topics such as healthy eating, social awareness and so on) or do we hide things away? Is filtering a sensible approach or is it just avoiding the issue and hoping we don't need to confront it.

I’m sure many of us were told as children that we were not allowed to do something and, of course, we did it anyway. Curiosity has a lot to answer for, so perhaps we should to let them explore, knowing what they might find and being prepared to discuss it. However, you wouldn’t let a child play with matches, we know that is dangerous… the debate is endless.

There are a good many pros and cons to the filtering solution, but as long as safeguarding is at the root of the decision rather than censorship, then there has to be some merits. However we mustn’t become complacent. This is not the only risk on the internet – so we can’t assume that our children will be safe once the legislation is in place.

If you have reactions to this topic or related ideas, share them in the comments section below.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on July 25, 2013 10:06

Sexting isn't just harmless fun

Last year, NSPCC reports found that the rate at which teenagers are being pressured to text and email sexually explicit pictures of themselves has accelerated in the last few years. These demands were also found to have come from peers rather than from adults or strangers.

A survey carried out by the US organisation, The National Campaign, found that:
• 20% of teenagers have sent nude or semi-nude pictures/videos of themselves.
• 39% of teenagers have sent sexually suggestive messages.
Teenagers send the majority of these sexts to boyfriends, girlfriends or other people they knew. However, 15% of teenagers who have sent nude/semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.

Prior research has shown that many teenagers have sent sexual texts, emails, images and videos. However many have not learnt what the risks are, and what the law says about sexting.

When BBC Reporters asked Tarporley High School Students for their views on sexting, 15-year-old Lizzie said: ‘I don't think the dangers of sexting are clear enough to young people. I think lots of young people think it's just for fun and there's a really dangerous side to it.’

Many teenagers and adults may think sexting can be exciting and fun, but there are many possible consequences, such as sending the sexual messages/images to the wrong person, the person you sent them to may share them, or the images/messages may accidentally be discovered by others if phones were lost. Another key issue regarding teens and children sending sexts is that youngsters can be vulnerable to be pornography charges because, when the sender and/or receiver is underage it is considered child pornography, making it illegal.

Sexting cases are often in the news, including the recent case of three school students who recorded mobile phone videos of drunken sex acts with fellow teens; authorities said they then shared them among themselves. These teenagers face up to 20 years in prison with the charge of child pornography.

It’s vital that children and teenagers are taught about the dangers and consequences surrounding sexting in school and at home. They may see it as fun, but if any of their images/messages are found not only is it likely they will be embarrassed, but they could also face serious charges.

If you would like to share your teaching tips on tackling this with your students, please add your comments below.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on July 05, 2013 13:57

The E-Safety Timebomb

On a day when the online dangers faced by young people are again at the forefront of the news, campaigners have been urging for detailed lessons on internet safety to be taught regularly in schools. This is because there have been increasing fears that children with access to the internet are being exposed to inappropriate sexual content.

3,745 counseling sessions were carried out by ChildLine last year; 250 of the calls were reports that children were being 'groomed' online. 641 calls were received about exposure to online pornography, with some callers as young as 11 years-old.

Claire Lilley, safer technology lead at the NSPCC said: ‘We are facing an e-safety timebomb.’

‘The internet and mobile phones are now part of young people's everyday lives. They are the first generation who have never known a world without them.’

The NSPCC says that schools need to step in as the issue is something that parents struggle to keep up with. They are also urging all internet service providers to provide easy systems to allow parents to install online blocks and filters in their homes (although here at E-safety Support, we also advocate self moderation through their own understanding rather than creating barriers).

Phil Bradley, of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: ‘When it comes to the internet... children need to learn how to use it safely and how to differentiate the good from the bad.’

And with so much bad at their fingertips, it’s never been more important to make sure pupils really understand the risks they are taking when they set up an online profile, or join a social media site. For many of these ‘digital natives’, the internet is as natural a part of life as sliced bread was to their parents! So it’s quite understandable that there is a need for knowledge across the generations. Naturally, school is the institution where this can begin, but everyone must take a role to keep the children protected, including the children themselves.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on June 19, 2013 08:04


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