|“Teach children that information on the web is not always reliable.”
With the explosion of cyber technology, the issues of cyber bullying and ‘sexting’, are emerging as the number
one issue confronting the safety and wellbeing of young people and the wider community. Together with
associated technology including 3G mobile telephones, Instant Messaging(MSN), online games and the
popularity of social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook & now Twitter, today’s youth have access to
and are accessible by many millions of people worldwide.
Previously schools did not become involved in things that occurred ‘out of hours.’ It was not their business or
concern, however with cyber bullying, harassment and sexting, where the parties involved are often from within
the same school or neighbouring schools, the problem is firmly thrust into the hands of the school
accompanied by the often unrealistic expectations from parents, that they ‘solve’ the problem.
When bullying occurs online, regardless of where it actually took palace, and the fallout is obvious to school
staff, it does become a school issue. Likewise, many secondary schools have to deal with the issue of naked
pictures of students being spread throughout the school community. Schools must embrace technology for the
wonderful tool that it is, not dwell on the problem that it might become. Be proactive in all areas, educate your
whole community, students parents and staff and make sure that your policy documents are relevant, circulated
to all members of the school community and are regularly updated. Students must be encouraged to come
forward and report problems and breaches of policy must be dealt with sensitively and efficiently.