Keeping your child safe online

The internet is a wonderful resource, enormous fun and a valuable educational tool. But like most powerful tools it can also be dangerous and we need to learn to use it safely.

Did you know that …..

  • 79% of teenagers use Instant Messaging.
  • 29% of parents do not know what Instant Messaging is.
  • 1% of parents are aware that their child uses Blogs.
  • 33% of teenagers use Blogs regularly.
  • 67% of adults do not know what a Blog is.

*(National Statistics from CEOP)

This part of the website seeks to help parents and children discuss the risks together and understand how to be safe online at home and at school.

  • Do keep your password secure.
  • Do have a password with letters and numbers which cannot be guessed.
  • If you suspect someone knows your password get it changed straight away, or you may be blamed for what they do.
  • Don’t share your password with anyone, even a close friend.
  • Don’t have a password which could be guessed, such as your favourite colour, or your dog’s name.

If you are over the age of ten, it is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE to use someone else’s password (Computer Misuse Act 1990).

  • Do take responsibility for emails you send.
  • Watch your language. Remember they can be traced back to you.
  • Do delete any suspicious emails and report the misuse.
  • Don’t send (or forward) emails which may cause other people offence or anxiety.
  • Don’t open any suspicious emails or one from someone you don’t know.

If you are over the age of ten, it is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE to send words or pictures which are offensive, obscene, threatening, or intended to cause distress. (Malicious Communications Act 1988/2003).

This would be bullying (or harassment) and is a serious offence.

All Kent schools are connected to the Kent Community Network, and most unsuitable web sites are blocked by a system called ‘Websense’. These filters are constantly maintained to block new web sites as they appear. However, no filtering system can be perfect and you should know what to do if inappropriate material appears on your screen.

  • Do close immediately any screen, which contains inappropriate material.
  • Do report this to your teacher.
  • Don’t try to search for inappropriate sites or images. The monitoring software will track your activity and may report it to the system manager.
  • Don’t attempt to bypass the school’s internet filters. Accessing `Proxy sites` is forbidden.

If you search for ‘proxy sites’ it must be assumed that you were trying to hack past the filters and access sites that have been banned. You will be punished.

Before any Mascalls student can go online, they and their parents must sign an agreement. Attempting to go on inappropriate sites, including proxy sites is a breach of that agreement and will result in access being withdrawn. Students who access the internet (or send emails) during lessons, when they should be working on other things will also have their access withdrawn.

Chat Rooms and Instant Messaging

Programs like MSN or Skype allow students to chat online and are very popular amongst young people. Some of these allow a video link via a webcam.

Personal Websites, like Bebo, MySpace, PICZO etc.

These sites allow you to create your own website for free. The majority (60%) of young people in most secondary schools will own such a site. They are widely used and when used responsibly are a lot of fun. However, they are also widely misused, so parents and students need to understand the potential risks and how to avoid them. Parents should always insist that they can view their children’s websites. Discuss the ‘Golden Rules’ below with your son or daughter.

Typically a student with such a site will post their favourite photographs, music, memories, and messages. They will create links to the sites owned by all their friends and encourage their friends to visit their site and leave messages for them (and others) to read. Some of these sites encourage students to post questionnaires about themselves, which invariably leads to them giving out too much personal information. Once a photograph is posted, you lose control. Anyone can copy it and pass it on. Inevitably a few students post messages which are inappropriate. These sites are not usually moderated but if very offensive material has been posted there is usually a procedure for reporting it to the web host who will then shut the offending site down. Usually, however, the damage has already been done.

Access to these websites is inappropriate during the school day so they are blocked at Mascalls but are in widespread use by Mascalls students from home.

Kent Police Online safety Golden Rules
  • Never give out Personal Information about yourself or your friends, which might allow someone to identify you.
    You should always use a false name for yourself and friends. Most teenagers enjoy making up names for themselves online and they will know their friend’s online names, too. Unfortunately, all too often students accidentally identify themselves elsewhere on their webpage. For example, if you post a photograph, you should not identify the school you are from or even the town. The school uniform must not be in the photograph. You should not indicate, (for example), which club you visit on Saturday mornings, or where you play football. Don’t post your mobile phone number, or private messaging address. Any of these things could allow someone to find you and follow you (or your friends) home.
  • Don’t trust people you meet on the Internet.
    They may not be who they say they are. Sadly, there are plenty of people surfing the net seeking the trust of young people in order to groom for abuse. In particular, be suspicious if they want your private chat address (MSN messaging, etc.). Do not give it out or agree to go into a private chat line with someone you do not know.
  • Report any Suspicious activity or Abuse.
    If something online makes you feel scared or uncomfortable, report it to an adult you trust such as your parents or a teacher. Do not report it to someone you met online! You can also report abuse at:
  • Never arrange to meet with someone you have met online.
    This can be extremely dangerous, because you don’t know who they might be. (If you really want to make contact with them, it must be with your parents and in a public place.)
  • Manage your Website Responsibly.
    If anyone leaves offensive language or unpleasant bullying messages, on your web site, delete it. Learn how to block people you don’t know or like from access to your site. Post a message on your site saying that your site is a ‘Bully Free Zone’ and that any abuse will be reported.

We all have something to learn. National Surveys show that:

  • 13% of eleven year olds regularly go on line at home without supervision.
  • 11% of eleven year olds claim that their parents know nothing about their activity online.
  • 31% of young people have received an unwanted sexual comment but only 7% told their parents.
  • 1 in 12 children have met face to face, someone they first met online.
  • Many teenagers have internet access in their bedroom, where they cannot be supervised. (CEOP advise that the home computer should be in a public part of the house).
  • Many postings on Bebo and PICZO take place in the early hours of the morning.
  • The average user of HabboHotel is nine years old.

These sites encourage students to post video clips. Some of the clips are very funny but many are tasteless. However, nothing posted on the web should identify Mascalls School or an individual student. It would not be acceptable for example, for images taken in school, images of teachers, or of students in Mascalls uniform to appear on these sites. This is why camera phones are not allowed in school.

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Reporting Abuse

Misuse of the school network or any breach of the school’s Internet use policy should be reported to a teacher. Remember, network activity is monitored and recorded and offenders can be traced.

If anything or anyone online makes you feel suspicious, uncomfortable, bullied or pressurised, you can and should report the abuse. You can: