June 3, 2010

Do We have Safer Children in a Digital World?

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Us Online references the current cyber-safeguarding literature, and foremost draws on Safer Children in a Digital World: The Report of the Byron Review (2008), and arguments for empowering children and young people to keep themselves safe. This report commissioned by the UK Government provided the foundation for the first two versions of Us Online.

In her follow-up study, Do We have Safer Children in a Digital World: A Review of Progress since the 2009 Byron Review (March 2010), Professor Byron reports that in Britain there is still progress to be made to ensure consistency in the quality of digital safety education in schools and across all ages, and to develop the knowledge and skills of parents, carers and families. This echoes many of the claims about digital safety education in Australia.

Regarding this latter point, Byron emphasises the need to make further progress on support for parents, carers and families and their understanding of digital safety issues. She observes that the inclusion of digital safety in the curriculum is only effective where it is supported by high-quality materials and resources (including acceptable use agreements) that are reviewed and updated regularly, plus the provision of complementary digital safety training for teachers and schools.

Byron is adamant that all school staff, not just teachers, share responsibility for digital safety, and hence digital safety training should be provided for all staff. Thus, her Review of Progress encourages school leaders to recognise digital safety as a priority for their staff’s continuous professional development.

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