In an effort to try to understand this phenomena and as part of research for the twilight sessions we are running, I have been trawling the net for info and examples.
Firstly the good news
We are in a lot better position to educate children about responsible use of the Internet in 2006. Organizations such as Childnet have lots of resources online and their collection and reputation is growing. Even the QCA's Internet Proficiency scheme (which is essentially the Grid club Cyber Cafe) is a credible learning resource. We also have Becta and in particular Ruth Hammond, who is working away at locating good practice and suggesting strong policy. Their recently updated publication on E safety has suggestions such as :
writing a policy for Internet Safety that is ongoing and that can be updated in light of changes in technology
appointing an Internet safety coordinator that liaises with management and ICT coordinator but is not actually the ICT coordinator
the definition of roles and responsibilities of the SENCO, HEAD, NETWORK MANAGER, ICT COORDINATOR, TEACHERS and Pupils
ensuring there is a triad approach of :
Net Education for children
Technical Infrastructure /Filtering
Having a whole school Internet safety and `abuse response` policy that clearly states who will do what when an incident occurs
I think the last one is crucial and underpins the other two, though it's probably the hardest to get in place!. The net education needs working on its perhaps something that leading teachers could work on, drawing from BT, Grid Club and Child Net. The recent report from NCH, Children GOonline, pointed out that only 30% of pupils felt that they had had been educated on how to use the Internet, though there is a QCA unit that mentions this, the depth of issues involved are not addressed by this and there is little mention of safe online behaviors. It could also be argued that this sort of issue should sit within PSHE.
WHAT ARE CHILDREN DOING???
This was the title of the presentation I have to give tomorrow . There are a number of things:
MSN - This can be used to insult someone - often by pretending to be someone else- easy if you have someone password. I remember earlier this year trawling through pages of MSN transcripts filled with foul language from kids in my class to each other - they were desperate for me to locate those that had upset them online
What is nasty about this is that it can involve a number of participants and the nature of the victims environment ( their home) means that the bullying becomes even stronger and more personal
It is worth noting that the new version of Messenger has a report abuse button that take you straight to thinkuknow.com and the ceop
Email - You can create a new identity and email someone with an abusive message
This happened to me and though we could thought we could trace the IP address of the user it wasn't entirely possible to prove who had done it
It is now remarkably easy to set up a website such as piczo you can add pictures and forums such as Buffest boy ( best looking), research shows it is girls who are more likely to bully in this way and it can be done quite subtlety such as omitting a girls name from a list of mates or friends or posting nasty comments about someone on the site
When a member of my own class created a site on this network I was disappointed to see how they behaved towards one another and though there was mostly a collection of petty jibes, these jibes can grow and turn into bullying, rejection and damage to self esteem
I am only placing the video below for the space of a week or so but it unfortunately shows two teachers receiving abuse /jibes . I know there are other videos like this of kids being picked on but these are often limited to select audiences
While looking into this whole issue I have found that it`s a bit like plugging a dam and we wont stop it happening by just shutting down sites- we need to work more on the net education and citizenship side and push social networking sites to be more responsible. There is one such responsible site - whose URL I forget right now but I'll post it tomorrow- if I have time. To be fair Bebo and others are now posting links to wired safety where parents are given tips on how to protect their children online