Response to Safeguarding and Wellbeing Seminar

Today’s lecture looked at issues regarding the safeguarding and wellbeing of children; be it emotional or physical wellbeing. It also examined the importance of relationships within the classroom and the types of decisions we need to make when shaping our professional identity and the way we interact with children in our class. Resilience was also discussed and the question was raised whether it is our responsibility, as teachers, to promote resilience in the children we teach.    What struck me most about this session, though, were the risks and procedures in relation to e-Safety.

In a world where the use of digital technologies is inescapable and actively encouraged in many ways, it is frightening to acknowledge the types of hazards which can stem from abuse of the systems which now form such a large part of everyday life. Inappropriate content and dangers involving online grooming were what most people would initially connect with the word ‘e-Safety’, but I found the three C’s (contact, content and commercialism) useful in putting these dangers into perspective and actually acknowledging the variety of other issues which can occur from online use (Allen et al. 2012:215) . I had never thought about the content of some online resources as affecting primary school children – possibly because I overestimated the abilities of internet filtering. However, looking at the Martin Luther King website today, set up by a white-supremacy group in America alerted me to the other types of obstacles children face in the use of the internet.

This prompted me to remember an article I read in Education Today, called Drawing out ideas from youngsters rather than imposing frameworks: A strategy for teaching the evaluation of information (Shenton and Nesset. 2013:12) The article expresses the need to teach children skills in evaluating the validity of information on TV, in books, from things they are told and, most pertinently – online. It suggests children are guided to explore the common features of ‘bad information’ (ibid) and that teachers should be ‘furnishing youngsters with a toolkit that they can use in a range of contexts.’ (ibid) This would mean that a new generation of online users could emerge, with the skills necessary to look in to issues in more depth before forming a solid opinion, and so become a critical, open-minded individual. This is interesting in light of the information we have received recently at university – in relation to the same kind of thing; examining our sources of information for underlying factors which may hinder its validity. So, this article has picked out an important point in being able to use the internet in a way which will aid children’s life in the future and help them discriminate potentially detrimental pieces of information. The fact that we, on the PGCE course, are receiving this information now suggests a need for it to be highlighted within the cohort. This may be due to a generational disparity in ICT education – as issues surrounding digital technologies were not so prevalent when I was at primary school. However, with every child now being able to access the internet at school and almost every child at home, it makes sense for them to be taught these skills at a much younger age.

Digital technologies seem to be an unstoppable element of modern life and the majority of people now have an online presence – on social networking sites, blogs etc. With this in mind, I was expecting the lecture to mention user-responsibility to other people. This was not addressed at all though and I was quite shocked. Although cyber-bullying was touched upon, I believe it should be a priority to try to tackle the root of cyber-bullying and the abuse which happens online; and that starts with educating children about the effects of their words. Instructing children on how to protect themselves online and be able to identify potential risks to their own wellbeing is incredibly important. But, what about the potential risk they may pose to others. It is not difficult to find examples of content online which may cause offense or upset – either maliciously, or unknowingly. It is crucial that children gain an understanding that things they say online may be misconstrued and have a serious effect on someone else – whether they meant for this to happen or not. The faceless nature of the internet makes it easy to forget that there is an audience at the end of our Facebook statuses and blog posts, and by teaching children the possible consequences of what they post online – in terms of other people’s reactions to it, we may be able to shape a more responsible and considerate generation of internet users.

In very recent news, ABC News reports of a 12-year-old girl committing suicide in September this year due to cyber-bullying by two other girls aged 12 and 14. BBC News says that the girl took her own life following ‘months of relentless online bullying’. I think this shows, to the extreme, the effect that cyber-bullying can have on others and the dangers of social networking. I also think it supports my point that children need to be educated about the consequences of their online footprint. I don’t think there are many children who would like to think something they said to another person would prompt such a devastating reaction and these risks need to be made clear.

Of course, tragic stories such as this are often brought to the forefront of the media and can serve to present an inaccurate view of the dangers surrounding internet usage. The lecture made me realise the importance of educating children about the risks, but also managing this so that children do not go away feeling scared at the prospect of using online resources. The realities of online risks need to be understood, but with instruction on how to identify and manage these properly and the provision of people (teachers or otherwise) children can turn to if they have worries or issues regarding e-Safety, children can benefit fully from the amazing resource which is the internet and protect themselves from potential threats in the future.

References:

Allen, J. Potter, J. Sharp, J. and Turvey, K. (2012) ‘E-Safety’ in. Primary ICT: Knowledge, Understanding and Practice. London: Learning Matters Ltd. Pp 214 – 222.

Shenton and Nesset (2013) ‘Drawing out ideas from youngsters rather than imposing frameworks: A strategy for teaching the evaluation of information’ in. Education Today 63:3 pp 12-13.

Online Sources:

<http://abcnews.go.com/US/parents-alleged-rebecca-sedwick-cyberbully-blame-facebook-hack/story?id=20583537>  Accessed 21/10/2013

<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24538798> Accessed 21/10/2013

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3 thoughts on “Response to Safeguarding and Wellbeing Seminar

  1. khandscomb1 Post author

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24580139

    This was also in the news today. I suggests that pupils might not be getting taught how to really keep safe online and what the true dangers are. I am absolutely shocked to see that 18% of the 9-11 year olds they surveyed had arranged to meet someone in person who they have only met online before. After watching the video today about ‘Jenny’s Story’ this is quite horrifying and it shows just how important education in this area is.

    Reply
  2. kpemberton1

    You raise some very interesting points Katie. I found your argument for teaching children about the consequences of their words and the risk that they pose to others to be particularly poignant. After reading your post, I typed cyberbullying in to a search engine and was horrified to find the below article from the Orlando Sentinel which furthers your point about the 12 year old who committed suicide after being bullied by two peers. I was shocked to learn that despite being charged with aggravated harassment which ultimately led Rebecca to take her own life, one of her perpetrators showed absolutely no remorse for her actions. Furthermore, just this morning I was deeply saddened to see a news headline on Sky News stating that 55% of children have experienced cyber bullying and now see this as part of ‘normal life’.

    As such, I too agree that teachers should educate children about this as a matter of urgency. The potential for the internet to damage children’s self-esteem and cause children to commit suicide is devastating. However, like you, I too believe we should not deny children the opportunity to use the internet, but rather educate children to ‘think smart’ and be aware of it’s dangers and possible misuses. I agree with you that it is vital to ensure that children do not feel scared at the prospect of using the internet, and believe that as teachers we must now strive to empower children to use the internet safely and responsibly in order to become confident users who can reap the enormous benefits that technology has to offer.

    References

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-10-15/news/os-rebecca-sedwick-cyber-bully-arrests-20131015_1_rebecca-ann-sedwick-12-year-old-girl-saying-rebecca
    Accessed: 21/10/2013

    http://news.sky.com/story/1157289/cyberbullying-a-daily-problem-for-children
    Accessed: 21/10/2013

    Reply
  3. emmacvernon

    You both raise some interesting discussion points regarding the impact of the internet and, what seems to me, the extensive challenges faced by schools to manage the many issues that are fast arising as a result of it. Katie, I liked the comparison you drew between what Shenton and Nesset identified in their article in Education Today regarding the need for children to regard what they read with a critical eye, and our own need to critically reflect on research as part of our PGCE course. With the move towards empowering school children with the tools to safeguard themselves from unreliable, false or even damaging information received via the internet, the children are being equipped with the skills of criticality which will prepare them for adult life. This is of particular importance given the extensive and potentially unmanageable bombardment of information available online, which is of such varied levels of quality and reliability.

    I agree with the point raised about the importance of educating individuals about being more responsible for how and what they might post online – in particular via social networking sites. The very worrying level of cyber bullying and the fact that many parents and children are accepting this as part of life is particularly alarming. Teachers have a role to educate children on these and the full range of issues raised associated with internet use. The Child Exploitation and Online Police website (CEOP http://www.ceop.police.uk/) provides children with a range of age appropriate resources to help raise their awareness. It also provides guidance for parents and teachers. It links to a another website called ‘Think U Know’ which provides teachers with a range of teaching resources and lesson plans to support their teaching in this area (https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/teachers/resources/?tabID=2).

    References

    CEOP http://www.ceop.police.uk/

    https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/teachers/resources/?tabID=2

    Reply

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