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Why is e-safety such an important issue in education?

schedule 6th April 2017 by Alex Bateman in Safeguarding

safety online

Teachers play an extremely important role in inspiring young people and shaping their futures, but they also have a responsibility to safeguard their wellbeing, both in the classroom and online.

Traditionally, e-safety may have been viewed as the responsibility of a school's IT department, but with the world becoming increasingly digital, teachers need to be taking e-safety for pupils into their own hands, educating themselves about online dangers, before passing on this knowledge to their students.

Why e-safety is one of the biggest issues facing children today

More than five million children in the UK have encountered cyber bullying in the past, with 1.26 million dealing with this on a daily basis, according to statistics from a 2013 Ditch the Label survey. In the intervening years, these numbers are likely to have risen much further.

What's more, NSPCC data shows that there was an 87 per cent increase in Childline calls related to online bullying between 2012 and 2015.

It is not just their peers who can compromise the e-safety of young people either, but also online predators, with NSPCC figures showing that 2,100 children contacted Childline about being sexually exploited online between 2016 and 2017.

The advent of the internet has raised more 'stranger danger' issues than ever before, meaning awareness is key to protect children online, and this needs to start with safeguarding training. View the safeguarding e-learning courses on offer at Virtual College to find out more.

Protecting children's digital wellbeing

Bullying occurred in schools long before the introduction of social media, but the very nature of cyber bullying means that taunts cannot be left behind in the playground. Hurtful messages can be received at any time of day via social media, meaning online bullying can potentially have a more serious effect on children's mental health.

It is therefore vital that parents, teachers and older students who act as mentors to younger pupils are educating children about e-safety both in the classroom and at home, so they know how to deal with cyber bullying and can spot the signs of online predators.

Furthermore, Ofsted has introduced checks on e-safety in education as part of its school inspections. Schools are automatically deemed inadequate if they cannot demonstrate evidence of "progressive and planned e-safety education across the curriculum".

Taking part in a safeguarding course that covers e-safety for pupils, as well as e-safety for parents, can therefore be hugely beneficial for teachers, not only to meet inspection criteria, but to protect the wellbeing of young people as they increasingly interact online.

Explore the safeguarding courses on offer at Virtual College here.

Alex Bateman - Virtual College

Author: Alex Bateman

Alex is interested in the strategic application of learning and development. In particular how organisations can promote engagement with ongoing learning campaigns. He spends his spare time renovating his Victorian house. Ask him about his floors, I dare you.

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