Workshops warn capital’s first-years on risks of cyber bullying

Many children are unaware of the dangers on the internet. Picture: Getty
Many children are unaware of the dangers on the internet. Picture: Getty
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EVERY first year pupil in the Capital is to receive internet training to help combat cyber bullying and protect them from the dangers of chatrooms.

Each of the city’s 23 secondary schools will receive a share of £30,000 ring-fenced for the online workshops.

The S1 pupils will learn how to protect their privacy when using popular social networking sites, such as Facebook.

They will also be taught about cyber bullying, which is thought often to be carried out by pupils who do not realise their actions are upsetting others.

City education leader Marilyne MacLaren said funding for the training was set aside after she witnessed a similar pilot project at Firrhill High School which was run with Lothian and Borders Police.

She said: “The pupils were given lots of hints, tips and advice about the dangers of chatrooms and the dangers of giving personal details and photos out. Even places like Facebook can be dangerous.

“When I spoke to kids I was amazed at how naive they were as they didn’t realise posting pictures could mean the rest of the world could see them. I wanted to make sure we could roll this out to all of our schools.”

A key focus of the workshops will be on cyber bullying.

Cllr MacLaren said: “Online bullying is sadly an issue in our schools. We want them [pupils] to think about what is acceptable and what is not, what is jokey and what is hurtful.

“We are encouraging children to complain if they have been upset by something, or they feel they are being bullied, so that we can do something about it.”

The investment in online training for pupils is part of a surprise £2 million package of council spending revealed by the Evening News last week.

In the authority’s children and families department, £100,000 has also been set aside to help disadvantaged and disabled children benefit from sports, outdoor activities and trips to the council’s outdoor education centres Benmore, in Dunoon, and Lagganlia, near Aviemore.

Cllr MacLaren said it was important no child missed out on opportunities because their families could not afford to fund them.

She added: “There are more families in economic difficulties than ever before.

“For low income families or those on benefits, it’s quite a struggle to meet the costs of a school trip for a child and I didn’t want there to be any obstacles for young people to be able to access sporting opportunities, school trips and our outdoor education centres.”

A further £100,000 has also been ring-fenced for a “youth music and arts innovation fund”.

This money will help disadvantage families pay for equipment for pupils, as well as fund innovative one-off arts projects in schools.

Cllr MacLaren added: “The budget has been so tight that there’s been no wiggle room to fund these types of things.

“We are very keen that this generation of children are not disadvantaged in the areas of arts, music and sports.”