eSafety in Schools: Your Guide to Safeguarding Pupils

It’s believed that over 80% of children between 12 and 15 have had potentially harmful online experiences. This could be due to several reasons, including exposure to inappropriate material or incidents of cyberbullying.

Many of these experiences happen on social media and can lead to negative consequences for schools — pupils can become distracted and their grades may suffer. Bullying can also occur, resulting in poor mental health and reduced social skills.

It’s vital that your school takes online safety seriously and understands the importance of eSafety. But what steps can you take to make this happen? We’ve explained everything you need to know in this article.

Raising Awareness Among Teachers

One of the most effective ways to tackle eSafety challenges is by focusing on preventative measures. School administrators should emphasise the importance of eSafety policies and communicate them clearly to teachers and support staff. 

It’s also crucial that teachers receive appropriate training on how to handle issues related to eSafety in the classroom. There are many training techniques teachers can use, including:

  • Teachers must be trained to spot signs a student may be at risk from online activity — for example, indications of cyberbullying or grooming for sexual exploitation.
  • Teachers must know how to respond appropriately if a pupil comes forward about an online issue. This means knowing when to contact authorities and taking the necessary steps to safeguard the pupil.
  • It’s essential that teachers also receive regular refresher training on emerging trends and threats relating to eSafety.


Incorporating eSafety into Lessons 

Incorporating eSafety into lesson plans helps students understand how to act safely online and become more aware of potential risks. But what steps should teachers take to make this happen? 

Teachers must understand different online threats before teaching pupils about them. Regular refresher training is important, but there’s also an onus on the teachers themselves to spend time learning about issues.

Once teachers understand the issues, they can make necessary changes to their lesson structure. Having students research these topics or having guest speakers discuss them are great ways for teachers to promote discussions on eSafety.

Other effective ways to incorporate eSafety into lessons include:

  • Role-playing potentially dangerous situations.
  • Having open classroom discussions about handling different scenarios.
  • Providing pupils with resources and contact information so they know who to go to if something does happen.


Detect Cyberbullying Quickly

There’s a close link between eSafety and cyberbullying. Teachers must know how to detect these issues quickly and take action if an incident arises.

Knowing the warning signs of cyberbullying can help teachers prevent issues from worsening. Since there are many types of cyberbullying, awareness of different cyberbullying behaviours is the best place to start. These include:

  • Harassment.
  • Cyberstalking.
  • Account hacking.
  • Creating false profiles. 

Once a cyberbullying case has been identified, it must be addressed immediately to prevent further harm and ensure other pupils feel safe.

Teachers also need to emphasise the importance of reporting cyberbullying incidents. If pupils don’t speak up, it’s difficult for education professionals to intervene and offer support. 


Include Parents Along the Way 

Including parents in eSafety efforts is crucial for safeguarding pupils and making schools as safe as possible. When parents are aware of their children’s online activities, they can provide guidance and support when needed.

The first step is to provide parents with the right tools and information, such as: 

  • Online safety guidelines.
  • Tips on how to block unsuitable content.
  • Providing access to educational courses.
  • Sharing initiatives with parents. 

Schools can also involve parents in activities such as internet safety assemblies, informative talks from experts or workshops designed to teach pupils how to protect themselves from online risks. 

Keeping up with eSafety is just one of your responsibilities. You’re also in charge of ensuring your school stays up to date with innovations and performs at a high standard. But that’s no easy ask.

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