Social Media: Harassment

Department for Education written question – answered on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Independent, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that the statutory guidance for 2020 on (a) Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and (b) Health Education will include guidance on online abuse and threats on (i) Twitter and (ii) other social media.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Independent, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what advice is included in the statutory guidance for 2020 on (a) Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and (b) Health Education to minimise social media harassment of young adults using Twitter.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department wants schools to equip their pupils with the knowledge needed to make the best use of the internet and technology in a safe, considered and respectful way.

Through the guidance for the new subjects of relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education, teachers will address online safety and appropriate behaviour in an age appropriate way.

This topic is threaded throughout the guidance which sets out, for example, that pupils should be taught about the rules and principles for keeping safe online, including how to recognise risks, harmful content and behaviours, and how and to whom to report issues. Pupils should also be made aware of the relevant legal provisions when key topics are being taught, including online behaviours.

The guidance also refers to some key publications about internet safety which can be used by teachers and others in teaching about this topic. The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

This teaching will complement the existing computing curriculum, which covers the principles of online safety at all key stages, with progression in the content to reflect the different and escalating risks that pupils face. This includes how to use technology safely, responsibly, respectfully and securely, and where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.

There are other curriculum subjects which include content relevant to teaching pupils how to use the internet appropriately and safely. For example, citizenship education covers media literacy, distinguishing fact from opinion and the role and responsibility of the media in informing and shaping public opinion.

The Department has also published non-statutory guidance, ‘Teaching Online Safety’ in schools. This outlines how schools can ensure their pupils understand how to stay safe and behave online, as part of these existing curriculum requirements and is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-online-safety-in-schools.

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