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Having safe online experiences

Educators play an important role in helping children navigate the internet with confidence. Below are some useful resources to have open discussions with your students about having safe online experiences:

  • Classroom Resources(external link): If you are looking to incorporate activities which promote online safety into your classroom, Netsafe have gathered together a selection of resources to support planning or for using directly with ākonga.
  • Hector’s World(external link): an engaging animated series supported by lesson plans and worksheets, offering 4–8-year-old children practical guidance on staying safe and managing risks online.
  • The Inter-Yeti(external link): a digital storybook which has been created as a safe, positive and fun space for children aged 5-11 years to learn about staying safe online. It covers topics such as online bullying, upsetting and inappropriate content, online grooming and sharing of private or personal information.

Online bullying

Online bullying is when individuals use internet-enabled devices to bully, hurt or embarrass someone online. While all young people can experience online bullying, some vulnerable communities, such as rainbow youth, experience higher rates(external link). According to Netsafe(external link), online bullying can take many forms including: 

  • name calling,
  • repeated unwanted messages,
  • spreading rumours or lies,
  • fake accounts used to harass people,
  • excluding people from social activities, and
  • embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Educators can use the below resources to help students understand the emotional impact of online bullying, provide guidance on where to go for help and support and implement strategies to prevent online bullying.

Relationships and sexuality education

The Ministry of Education provides helpful guidance to support Relationships and Sexuality Education for years 1-8. This programme focuses strongly on consensual, healthy and respectful relationships as being essential to student wellbeing. You can check it out here:

Social-emotional safety skills

It’s important to develop young people’s social-emotional safety skills to help them have safe experiences online and offline. NZ Police and Kidpower International have developed the Kidpower Confident Kids programme to do just that. It includes child protection strategies and coaching strategies to help build children’s safety skills and confidence without scaring them.

Grooming

Grooming is when an adult tries to build a relationship with a child so that they can sexually exploit them. Exploitation isn’t always physical, it can happen online. Groomers try to build an online relationship with the child through social media, chatting in a forum, chatting in an online game or via any other platform for online communication.

If you want to learn more about how groomers get close to children and how they keep control, you can refer to Netsafe(external link).

  • Hector’s World(external link): an engaging animated series supported by lesson plans and worksheets, offering 4–8-year-old children practical guidance on protecting their personal information and figuring out who is trustworthy online.
  • Keeping Ourselves Safe(external link): a child abuse prevention programme developed by NZ Police for schools which helps students to recognise the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships in the physical and online worlds, and encourage students who have been or are being abused to seek help.

Protecting vulnerable youth online

All young people can be exposed to harms online. However, some groups are more vulnerable than others, for example, rainbow youth or youth with neurodevelopmental disorders. For these communities the internet can be a vital resource to explore their identities and reduce feelings of isolation by connecting with others who support their identities. It is important educators are aware of the increased risks that young people and vulnerable communities may be exposed to online.

Safeguarding and Child Protection

Safeguarding Children have developed eLearning modules for anyone working with tamariki in the primary and intermediate sector, for example, a teacher, teacher's aide, parent/whānau helper or administrator. This module provides information on the importance of child protection legislation and how to recognise and respond to child safety concerns.