COLUMN: Educating our young people about online safety is important

NDET 17-10-12 MC 1
stock pic - Highfields School Chesterfield road site.
NDET 17-10-12 MC 1 stock pic - Highfields School Chesterfield road site.

As adults, it is hard to keep up with the fast changes in technology that our children seem to take in their stride.

Educating children to keep safe online is something that all parents and schools are grappling with because of the rapid pace of change in the online world.

Staff at Highfields School recently benefitted from updated training on online safety.

We learnt that through GPS your smart phone could be tracked to an accuracy of three metres.

That means your friends can identify the very room you are now sat in reading this article. Amazing.

Many of us didn’t realise that many of the social network sites our young people use include this facility meaning that they can be located in person by anyone they are talking to.

All of Derbyshire’s schools have shown young people the short film “Kayleigh’s Love Story” about the murder of 15-year-old school girl Kayleigh Haywood.

It was created to illustrate the dangers of online grooming to all young people.

We also talked to our students about Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old who was murdered by a man he met on an online gaming forum.

We did this working closely with the police from our Safer Neighbourhood Team and the Matlock Multi-Agency Team.

We spoke to all of our students about their safety online and how they can help to protect their friends and younger siblings.

Students were able to ask the police questions and had opportunity to talk to their friends and pastoral staff about how they felt about what happened to Kayleigh and Breck.

To reflect on a different aspect of safety we had a visit from the Derbyshire Armed Response Unit (ARU) to speak to our 13 and 14-year-old students about the dangers and consequences of carrying illegal weapons such as knives and imitation firearms.

Students learnt about the work of the police in Derbyshire and how good communication skills are vital in police efforts to keep us all safe.

Our term finished with our 14 and 15-year-olds taking part in a health day where they met volunteers from the Amy Winehouse Foundation talking about addiction, heard how to check themselves for signs of testicular and breast cancer and took part in fun fitness activities such a trampolining and Zumba.

We are proud that we work and live in a community that is extremely safe but continue to work with parents, carers and students to highlight the dangers that aren’t always easy to spot.