Scotland will tackle cyberbullying and the exploitation of young people online through a new internet safety programme for schools.
On ‘Safer Internet Day‘, the Scottish Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, unveiled an initiative to provide education professionals with the necessary resources and support to help pupils navigate an increasingly digital world.
The Special Recognition Badge for Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety is the only programme of its kind being delivered in the UK.
The framework, developed by Digital Schools Awards in partnership with Education Scotland and the Child Protection Unit, has received support from a number of major tech companies including Microsoft, HP and Intel.
Police Scotland has also pledged its support for the initiative.
Commenting on the announcement, made at the Young Scot DigiKnow? event in Dundee, Todd said: “The proliferation of the internet and advances in digital technologies have brought around much positive change.
“But in an age where mobile technologies are integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, ensuring young people enjoy a positive experience online needs to be a top priority.”
The Minister added: “This is the first initiative of its kind to be delivered in Scotland, that supports teachers with information and practical resources. By doing so we are better equipping them to educate pupils on the benefits and potential dangers of the internet.”
The stand-alone badge will be available to all schools that showcase a proactive approach to cyber resilience and internet safety. To attain a recognition badge, schools must complete self-assessments to identify their specific areas of expertise, as well as where knowledge gaps exist.
Digital Schools Awards will provide necessary guidance through the scheme to help schools achieve accreditation if there are gaps.
With as many as one-in-four children aged between 8-11 years using social media, the need for schools to provide pupils with the confidence and savvy to operate online is crucial to their wellbeing.
Through practical support sessions, the programme will encourage an open dialogue between teachers and pupils on some of the key issues surrounding internet safety. Participants will be given the skills to identify online risks, as well as developing strong cyber hygiene practices.
George Brasher, Managing Director of HP UK and Ireland, commented: “Keeping young people safe online has never been more important. Through this initiative, HP is proud to support schools in ensuring that young people grow up in a culture where staying safe online is as natural to them as any other aspect of their digital lives.”