Formalise Cyber Safety education in schools: Children & Youth Affairs Committee Report on Cyber Security

The Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs has today published its Report on Cyber Safety for Children and Young Adults.

29 March 2018

Some of the report’s recommendations include:

• That an Office of a Digital Safety Commissioner should be established and that it should have particular regard to ensuring that Children and Young People, who are some of the most vulnerable online users, are protected.  

• That Cyber Safety education should be formalised on both the primary school curriculum and the post-primary school curriculum.

• That both primary and post-primary school should appoint teachers as “Digital Safety Ambassadors” and that these teachers should be provided with the supports and training so that students have an appropriate person to approach when issues arise in this area.

• The Government should advance the establishment of a Cyber Safety Programme in both primary and post-primary schools.

• That Section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 be repealed and replaced with a new offence of harassment which expressly applies to harassment by all forms of communication including through digital and online communications, as per the Law Reform Commission’s Report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety.

Committee Chair, Alan Farrell TD said, “Despite children now growing up with the internet and often being more skilled at using it than many adults, adults cannot assume that children will know instinctively how to protect themselves from online dangers. The Committee prioritised the issue of cyber safety for consideration precisely because of its increasing relevance and the need for measures to be put in place to protect young people online. The area of internet safety in Ireland is currently regulated and governed by a variety of actors. The Committee believes that there should be a clearer regulatory framework and governance structure in place so as to ensure that children and young people are adequately protected in this space. The Committee strongly supports Minister Naughton’s recent announcement that a Digital Safety Commissioner will be appointed later this year and we would like to see that process expedited.”

“Making online safety a formalised part of the curriculum in primary and post primary schools is something the Committee believes could positively impact students’ attitudes and behaviours online. Making cyber safety part of the curriculum would go a long way towards ensuring that children and young people are consistently aware of the best way to protect themselves online.”

“The Committee also believes that a national campaign regarding cyber safety is needed, in a similar vein to campaigns about road safety. This could be particularly effective as children and young people are frequently online as well as keen television watchers, so an information campaign aimed at them could have real benefits.”

“We will be sending our report to all relevant departments and we hope it will be considered as part of the government’s deliberations on this issue.”

Read the report here

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