The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday launched the expanded modules of CyberSafe project, an initiative aiming to protect children from cyberbullying and online child abuse.
The Cybersafe project was developed in partnership with child-care nonprofit Stairway Foundation Inc. (SFI) and was conceived after surveys revealed that despite a big majority of children use the internet, only 50% on average of children ages 7-16 years were talked to and taught about the dangers that individuals, especially children, may expose themselves to online.
The program expanded from the original intent of formulating an online safety curriculum to creating modules and lesson plans for Grades 5 and 6, and Junior High School students. The said modules would better inform and equip the teachers in handling the rising number of incidence of online abuse cases among children by educating their students in terms of proper online protocols and safety.
The modules for Grades 5 and 6 will contain learning points and guide questions about cyberbullying, account privacy, online content sharing, online friends and pornography, selfies, and texting. Lessons will include warning signs for students in different online scenarios and situations, for them to better assess their online safety and hopefully, make responsible choices in relation to their online activities. While Junior High School stuents will be taught how to safely handle instant messaging, gaming, gambling, relationships, sexting, and text clans among others.
The Department of Educations is not blind to some concerns that teachers, who are not as technologically-apt as their students, may not be in a position to handle these modules. In the backdrop of this seeming gap in knowledge of and exposure to technology between adults and children, Education Secretary Armin Luistro scored the need to protect children from different forms of online abuse.
“Teachers may feel threatened and they don’t want to understand (what) the possibilities and risks are and they actually… leave that section of learning and growth,” Luistro stated. “Our own educators would have to make sure that we know the landscape online and what students are learning, what they’re engaging outside that period where they are.”
SFI Executive Director Lars Jorgensen stressed the crucial role of parents in the program. “The close relationship between a parent and a child is so important because the child, they will, on the Internet, will very like come into a situation where they don’t know how to handle it and they will need a trusted adult to talk to them,” he said. Such a kind of relationship between parents and their children may prove to be crucial especially in cases, when the child feels more comfortable confiding negative experiences with their parents than with their teachers.
Given the sensitivity of issues that these online cases may bring, teachers are also advised on how they may handle disclosures made by children. They are also reminded that they are legally mandated to report the incidents to their school’s child protection committee.
Each module may be downloaded through the DepEd website and will be updated periodically to cover new topics and eventually other grade levels.