Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Call For Cyber-Safety Class in All Schools

Cyber-safety education at school empowers and protects young people and should be available in classrooms across Australia, a conference has heard.

One in four children are bullied every week in Australia, and children are increasingly finding “creative” ways to bully online, the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Sydney heard on Monday.

“Technology is a very important aspect of young people’s lives, but they’re also very naive about the dangers of the internet,” the CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Judith Slocombe, told the conference.

“It’s critical that we create a whole-of-community approach to keeping young people safe online.” Ms Slocombe said incorporating cyber-safety programs into the school system was proving effective. She cited the charity’s eSmart Schools initiative which was piloted in 2010.

Of the 150 schools involved, 98 per cent said it had helped students become much safer online. The eSmart program has been funded by the Victorian and Queensland governments and rolled out across 1400 schools in Australia.

Ms Slocombe urged other state governments to follow this lead. “We need to keep putting projects like this in place to help children change their online habits and keep themselves safe,” she said.

“Children need to access the internet and be online for multiple reasons, such as learning, so we can’t just block them or stop them from using the internet. Programs like these not only educate but also empower young people to be smart, safe and responsible users of technology.”

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