Building Respectful Relationships at Online
Through our Pastoral Care Policy we focus on the total development of each student and the enhancement of the dignity of each person. We nurture success and have a commitment to forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. As teachers, we seek to motivate young people to be socially responsible and committed to building a better world through a partnership of the school community, teachers and parents. We do this under the banner of ‘RESPECT FOR ALL’ which is visible in all our learning spaces and referred to regularly when working with students on their Social Emotional Learning, their behavioural choices and their interactions with each other and adults.
Teaching, modeling and developing students who understand, value and demonstrate an appreciation and application of the concept of respectful relationships requires collaboration from all stakeholders in the life of a young person; teachers, community members, peers, parents, friends etc.
As we continue to build the important links between home and school, the following information relates to online safety which is an important aspect of building respectful and safe relationships online, particularly as our students increasingly engage and interact with others online.
What is online safety, and why is it important?
Young people are increasingly exposed to an open and collaborative online culture, which allows them to access information, maintain friendships and relationships with family, and engage in creative content production (Collin, Rahilly, Richardson, & Third, 2011). Young people, however, are at a dynamic stage of development in which risk-taking behaviours and emerging decision-making capacities can lead to negative outcomes (Viner, 2005).
An awareness of how to ensure safe practices online is an important skill for young people. While parental involvement in safe use of technology should start from a child’s first use, parents continue to be a critical influence in ensuring that teenagers practice responsible digital citizenship and engage in online activities safely.
“Online safety” is used interchangeably with terms such as “Internet safety”, “cybersafety”, “Internet security”, “online security” and “cyber security”. The risk of using computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices to access the Internet or other social media is that breaches of privacy may lead to fraud, identity theft and unauthorised access to personal information. Other risks for children include cyberbullying, stalking, or exposure to illicit materials. Criminal offenders have proven to be highly skilled at exploiting new modes of communication to gain access to children, and children can easily access adults-only materials if there are no protective mechanisms in place (Queensland Police, 2014)
These situations can place a young person’s emotional wellbeing, and in extreme cases physical wellbeing, at risk. This is particularly the case where little or no attention has been paid to monitoring use, communicating with teenagers about use, or the security of the device being used. In these types of cases, and for the purpose of this paper, online safety is a child protection issue.
While online safety is important for protecting children from dangerous and inappropriate websites and materials, this does not mean that parents should discourage their children from accessing the Internet. The challenge is to help children enjoy the benefits of going online while avoiding the risks (Raising Children Network, 2011).
Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (https://www.esafety.gov.au/) has the key role of promoting and enhancing online safety for Australian children and administering the complaints system for cyberbullying material targeted at Australian children.
The office also provides a range of information and resources for children, parents, school teachers and Indigenous communities on specific safety issues, such as sexting, cyberbullying, online gaming, protecting personal information online, images and videos, and social media.
This online resource provides an extensive range of useful resources for students and parents and it is highly recommended to all parents.
Pascal Czerwenka – Year 5 Teacher/Deputy Head of Lindfield Prep