Students of the Sts. Francis/Joseph Catholic Primary School took the National Child Protection Council’s (NCPC) Digital Citizens Pledge, Tuesday (April 9), during the launch of the NCPC’s NetSmartz Campaign. The Pledge encourages adults and students to observe a number of rules as they relate to being “good, digital citizens and students.” These include: protecting my own and others’ private information online; communicating kindly and responsibly with others on social media; respecting others’ ideas and opinions; standing up to cyber-bullying, and giving proper credit when using others’ work. The Pledge ends with: “I am respectful, kind, honest ad responsible. I am a digital citizen.”
“We encourage adults and students across the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to take the Pledge and to follow the requirements of the Pledge,” Dr. Novia T. Carter-Lookie, a noted child psychologist and Deputy Chairperson of the National Child Protection Council said. The NetSmartz Campaign highlights the dangers associated with the improper use of the Internet. The campaign had “an extremely successful” Pilot in Long Island during a recent visit by NCPC officials in March, 2019. Tuesday’s launch was part of the activities commemorating Child Protection Month in The Bahamas during the month of April. Child Protection Month has been observed annually in April in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas since 1992 and is a collaboration between the Child Protection Unit of the Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development; the National Child Protection Council, and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit of the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Carter-Lookie said the National Child Protection Council will use the NetSmartz Programme to address the new risks in the following manner: inappropriate content, online privacy, sexting, online sexual solicitation and cyber-bullying. The programme seeks to educate children on how to recognize potential internet risks; engages children in a two-way conversation about on and offline risks, and empowers children to help prevent themselves from being exploited and to report victimization to a trusted adult. The presentation covered areas ranging from inappropriate content on the Internet; six pieces of information that are considered personal information and should not be shared online without a parent’s or guardian’s permission; Internet safety; good, online manners, and cyber-bullying – four things to do if being cyber-bullied.
Dr. Carter-Lookie also shared a number of Safety Tips developed by the NCPC with the students. Some of those tips include keeping personal information – real names, family details, home address and phone number – hidden, blocking persons who send hurtful or nasty messages, setting networking sites and profiles to Private, always ask permission before revealing someone else’s details and avoid opening messages from strangers. NCPC officials have also developed four Safety Rules parents should encourage their children to follow when using the Internet. They are as follows: I will tell my trusted adult if anything makes me feel sad, scared or confused; I will ask my trusted adult before sharing information such as my name, address and phone number; I won’t meet face-to-face with anyone from the Internet; and I will always use good etiquette and not be rude or mean online.
“Those four rules are designed to ensure that our children are kept safe whilst online. It helps them to understand how to interact online. It helps them to recognize danger online and most importantly, it helps our children to realize that certain behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable online,” Dr. Carter-Lookie said. “The two major ones for me are children releasing personal information online, and the other one is children feeling that it’s okay to meet persons face-to-face with the person since they may have spoken to the person online for two to three months. And so those four rules are basically geared to safeguard our children.”
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