I am sure that you have seen the overwhelming media attention that has been given to the issue of cyberbullying and eSafety in recent months. As a school we take eSafety very seriously and are working together to educate our pupils on the importance of keeping themselves safe online and the dangers of cyberbullying. We have been focusing some of our ICT and PSHE lessons on this issue, as well as providing the children with a theatre production of "The B Word" which looked at bullying and cyberbullying.
Effective eSafety can only happen if the message that we give to the children is consistent and we work together with you to provide the children with the same message. Swimming pools can be dangerous places, so we teach children to swim. Crossing the road can be dangerous, so we teach them safe ways to cross. Just because there are dangers we do not stop children from doing these things. We do not wish to stop children having access to the internet because, if used correctly and responsibly, the internet can be a wonderful place. Therefore it is important that we teach children how to be responsible users of the internet in order to protect themselves.
In school we have a filter set which allows us to restrict the websites that the children have access to, as well as monitor their online activity in order to help to keep them safe online. We can prevent the majority of undesirable content from coming into your child's possession due to our generic filtering service. We have also invested in posters that promote "SMART Internet Rules" to remind the children of five simple steps which they can take to keep themselves safe online. We have also sent home a wallet-sized copy of these rules for you to share with your child.
There are also some other simple steps which you could take to help keep your child safe online:
- Set parental controls on the computers to control what your children can and cannot access.
- Keep computers in a central location where you can monitor their online activity.
- Be aware of the websites that your child uses and know the content of these.
- Know the content of games that your children play, and who they are talking to online.
- If your child has an email account, check that they are emailing people that they know and monitor their emails.
- Although it is against Facebook's User Terms, if your child does have a Facebook account make sure that they use this responsibly. This should include not having any personal details on their page e.g. school name, surname, location, and monitoring who they have on their friends list.
- If your child has access to a webcam, make sure that they can only use it in a supervised environment and that they are only using it to communicate with people they know.
Unfortunately the internet can also be used negatively, especially when children are unsupervised. Cyberbullying can have the same devastating effects on a person as face-to-face bullying. It is a well-known fact that people become braver when they are able to communicate behind the safety of technology, often saying things to people that they would not normally say in a face-to-face situation. As a school we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of bullying and take any allegations very seriously. If you suspect that your child is a victim of cyberbullying, or indeed involved in cyberbullying, please do not hesitate to contact the school. This is an issue that has been raised in the media recently following the sad cyberbullying of Hannah Smith which ultimately resulted in her death. We will continue to endeavour to work against cyberbullying.
In school we will continue to work to promote the importance of eSafety. In February 2014 we shall be supporting Safer Internet Day, using this day to teach the children how they can use the internet safely and the benefits of using the internet.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact myself or your class teacher.
Mrs R. Hardwick