Workshop at b-ccentre conference
EMSOC participated at the “Online risicocgedrag van kinderen & downloaders van kinderporno” studiedag organized by the b-ccentre. Verónica Donoso (EMSOC) and Sofie Vandoninck (KUL) led an interactive session aimed at having an open discussion with educators and experts in the field of e-safety. Educators including teachers, school directors but also police representatives discussed together current e-safety challenges at school and some possible solutions. The session started by asking participants to select a specific e-safety issue they felt was most relevant to their school reality and to explain to other participants why they had chosen that specific topic. The discussion focused quickly into the direction of cyberbullying and how to deal with it in an effective, but also constructive way. Participants agreed that it was important to tackle cyberbullying from a whole-school perspective involving all members of the community, however they also pointed out that this implied important challenges and changes to existing school practices which tended to be top-down and usually stemming from school direction and the teachers rather than from other members of the school community such as pupils or parents. Participants also recognized that their schools lacked a coherent and effective whole-school policy to deal with (cyber) bullying. This was reflected in the case-by-case handling of incidents post-(cyber) bullying rather than a preventive approach. As regards the design of school anti-cyberbullying policies school representatives referred to the current lack of student and parental involvement in the policy-making process. They also referred to their own limitations in terms of knowledge and resources to deal with the problem (e.g. not knowing what an efficient measure would be in a specific case or simply lack of time to develop a whole-school policy). The suggestion from the experts about developing school rules together with teachers and students in order to achieve a higher degree of validation was well-received by the school representatives. However it was also stressed that this was not enough.
Other challenges pointed out in this session were related to the need to increase (social) media literacy among teachers, parents and pupils, but also devising mechanisms so that teachers can keep up with the constantly changing digital environment; developing appropriate channels so that schools can get enough support from experts to deal with e-safety issues. In particular a closer contact with academics and NGO`s would be highly valuable; design and implement effective interventions on a regular basis; consider the individuality of schools and their communities when dealing with e-safety issues.
By Verónica Donoso Navarrete