Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Murder highlights internet threats

The dreadful story of 17 year-old Ashleigh Hall, murdered by a sex offender she met online, must have injected extra concern into school ICT teaching. Such concerns are international.

Google executives have been given six-month suspended jail sentences in Italy for allowing a clip of a boy being bullied in school to be hosted on their sites. Meanwhile, the Hindustan Times' parents help column had a question on what to do about a 15-year-old daughter who had her profile on all social networking sites and was spending her time talking to her friends rather than doing her homework.

The teaching unions' annual conferences have reflected increasing worries about not only malicious pupils but parents, too, who are misusing the internet to abuse teachers.

All this indicates the importance for schools of not only ensuring that the curriculum gives young people the knowledge to safeguard themselves, but also of reviewing their procedures for safeguarding pupils and staff from attacks online. These will include quick response systems to get sites taken down as well as a willingness to make complaints to invoke criminal processes where the laws on electronic communication are being broken.

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