How can SRE advise today's generation on continuing e-safety concerns?

Cyber Self HarmGNRN? PAW? Mean anything to you? These are acronyms or text language being used to facilitate the teen pastime of 'sexting'; it is currently estimated that at least 39% of teens are doing it. But it's not just all about the language; the sending of sexually suggestive pictures via phones, as we all know, is also a big problem in schools where photos become viral at the touch of a button. Before the sender knows it, the whole school can see them and teachers are left trying to ascertain who’s to blame and whether to involve outside agencies.

As educators, we are obliged to make intricacies of the law such as the possession and usage of images clear for our students. During my time teaching on workshops about this subject I frequently hold a class questionnaire on common scenarios; my observations are that on nearly all counts adolescents do not have a good handle on the law in this area. Knowing the law helps students make informed decisions and can make the difference in their behaviour; you can see ‘lightbulb’ moments when things are clarified and the realisation that something that can start of as ‘a bit of fun’ can actually be a prosecutable offence. A good example of this is when a male Year 10 student took some pictures for fun of another boy whilst getting changed for P.E, he then sent it to the rest of the class, he was completely aghast to know that his actions could be seen as distribution of indecent images of a person under 18.

Cyber bullying is still prevalent, being the medium of choice for many bullies who enjoy the power of being able to subject victims to nasty texts 24/7. I imagine for the victim it feels like a mixture of stalking and bullying, unable to escape the contact and not knowing in some cases who is doing it. It can be a challenge to reach the conscience of young people at times; they are still honing empathy skills and perhaps lack the maturity to see the consequences of their actions. This is where pre-planned lessons can really help; with these plans you can use real life stories as examples of the cause and effect of certain actions. Students can then relate to this, helping them see the ramifications of their behaviour.

Furthermore, sharp increases are being reported by CEOP in paedophiles’ targeting youngsters online to ‘groom’ them as a way of getting them to pass photos and take part in sexual talk through social networking sites. Sex offenders may be finding it easier to gain gratification this way, perhaps with less risk of being caught? Yet another sign of the times is that schools are having to shoulder the responsibility of warning students against such risks.

Complex issues require a head on approach; the E-safety Support assemblies and lesson plans provide an excellent opportunity to get the message across quickly and effectively to a large number of students. Many benefits are also seen in delivering to specific classes and year groups or targeted students identified as being vulnerable, acting as an early intervention strategy. The PowerPoints provided here really make this easy and problem free; the prescriptive nature of the assembly plan means that perhaps less experienced colleagues can gain confidence and feel comfortable giving information on this subject. It also makes the law surrounding this complex subject much clearer, which can only serve to act as a deterrent or at best a second thought before pressing send.

NB: text acronyms from above; GNRN = get naked right now and PAW = parents are watching



If you have any thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us using the form below.

Written by Vicki Dan on March 19, 2014 10:03

Selfies and the development of cyber language

I recently saw an advert for a smartphone with the strapline ‘putting the camera first’. Now call me old fashioned, but surely the phone should come first?

Having an all-in-one device which incorporates a camera has changed the way we use photography in our everyday lives. It’s not that long ago that taking photo’s was largely limited to a roll or two of film used exclusively for family holidays and Christmas parties which had to be developed and turned into printed photographs (then undoubtedly stuffed into a drawer and forgotten about).

Today though, taking photos is something which we are encouraged to do daily and then share via our social media network. And the latest trend for taking these photos it to take one of yourself, or taking a ‘selfie’.

This week , Oxford Dictionaries classified selfie as their word of the year and defined is as:

  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary
  • It seems that the word also has derivations including belfie – a bum selfie, delfie – a drunken selfie and helfie – a hairstyle selfie amongst others!

    This spontaneous way of taking photos seems like harmless fun – and indeed in its purest form it is. Take for example the recent news about a young girl who took a selfie at a Beyonce concert and was delighted to get her icon in the shot (we could add the new phrase photobomb here too). That’s what selfies are all about, but it doesn’t take much for it to go wrong.

    It could start as someone posting a selfie online. Invited or not, comments could be made and potentially this could lead to (another term we are unfortunately becoming familiar with) cyber bullying.

    Or perhaps we should introduce another recent addition to common language – sexting. Sending or requesting inappropriate selfie images, or sexting, could lead to distress, bullying, blackmail or indeed criminal prosecution.

    The development of the mobile device and technology in general has given rise to a number of other phrases and meanings including smartphone (as discussed in our ‘Is that a phone in your pocket’ article) or it’s opposite dumbphone, tablet, android, iOS, live-stream, refollow, hackable, phablet, digital detox, MOOC, internet of things, BYOD....

    According to Oxford Dictionaries, technology remains the catalyst for new words emerging – and that can only be fuelled by how we use the technology we have access to. We must therefore ensure that young people become good digital citizens and use the technology responsibly.



    Image from Oxford Dictionaries Selfies Infographic

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on November 20, 2013 13:31

    E-safety education and the role of the parent

    In the last few weeks we have had news about internet filtering to block adult content, celebrities falling victim to ‘sexting’ and yet more stories about students and teachers suffering from cyber bullying via social media platforms. Add to that the plethora of new sites appearing that encourage participation from young people, and you can begin to see the enormity of the e-safety risks children face.

    As teachers, there is a responsibility to safeguard pupils inside and outside the classroom which can be achieved with lessons and assemblies on e-safety, as well as enabling students to help the school develop and deliver the e-safety policy. But should it stop there?

    The Guardian recently reported that research by Plymouth University showed that while parents appear to be confident about how safe their children are online, they are avoiding the difficult conversations about ‘sexting’, cyber bullying and so on. "There is a disconnect between how safe parents think they can keep their children online and their actual ability to do that," claimed Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility at Plymouth University.

    It’s easy to understand why parents may find this a difficult topic, not least because of the new language and internet slang which has developed with the increase in online participation. But there is also the issue of privacy – in research carried out by mobileinsurance.co.uk, 60 % of parents of children as young a 6 do not check mobile phone use for fear of invading their privacy. It goes without saying that parents need to help in the campaign to make sure children are safe in any environment and that includes online. First, however, it seems that we may need to educate them too.

    If you would like to share your thoughts or tips on involving parents in e-safety education, please use the comments section below. Alternatively visit the E-safety Support Parents Pack for more information.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on July 30, 2013 09:53


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