Learner Online Safety Back in the SpotlightPublished on: 2023-04-19
Learner online safety is back in the spotlight as South Africa’s 23 000 public sector schools reopened to some 12m learners.
The Internet is the greatest enabler of education since movable type or, indeed, the written word. However, online threats to learners and schools are real and must be mitigated, says the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA).
From cyber bullies to social media posts that can come back to haunt them later in life, online interaction can sometimes have severe consequences for learners.
According to ISPA chair, Sasha Booth-Beharilal: “Learners today have grown up with the Internet at their fingertips and it forms a significant part of their daily lives. With access to entertainment and information, comes the risk of being exposed to harmful content and equally harmful predators, scammers and cyberbullies.”
Cyberbullying remains a top concern for parents, schools and even the South African Police Service (SAPS) as bullying behaviour can easily escalate.
SAPS provides the following sound and well-considered advice for children and teens dealing with cyberbullies this new school term:
Do not respond: If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants.
Do not retaliate: Responding with similar threats reinforces the bully’s behaviour.
Save the evidence: Online messages can usually be captured, saved and shown to someone who can help. Save evidence because cyberbullying can escalate.
Block the bully: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it happens while you are chatting, leave the “room” or group.
Report abusive comments to administrators: Reach out for help. Talk to a friend or a trusted adult who can help.
Parents and schools should always report cybercrime as they would any other crime. When reporting a cybercrime at a local police station, it is imperative that it be forwarded to the SAPS Cybercrime Division.
ISPA maintains a Cyber Safety Resources page here: https://ispa.org.za/safety/
The SAPS cyberbullying resource can be found here:
For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.