Group of students raising hands during a lesson in the classroom. [Illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Pupils across the country are marking Internet Safe Browsing Week within the education system this week in an effort to raise awareness for safe practices on the Internet and cyberbullying.
As part of the week, from February 4-9, pupils and students are taking part in discussions, workshops, lectures and special projects to raise awareness of the issues.
This year, in an effort to engage students in the systemic process of ending cyber-bullying, the Education Ministry has called on students in elementary and junior high schools to formulate guidelines for proper conduct on the Internet.
The guidelines proposed by the pupils will comprise a national code of ethics, which will become a binding set of guidelines anchored in a memorandum of the ministry’s director-general.
The final code of ethics for Internet browsing will be written in collaboration with the School of Communications at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and is set to be released just ahead of the summer vacation.
“Social media presents an educational challenge for parents and the education system,” Education Ministry director-general Shmuel Abuav said ahead of the week.
“We are implementing numerous programs to adapt the [educational] system to the challenges of the 21st century, including the prevention of violence and shaming, and additionally implementing programs for the intelligent use of the Internet for positive, educational purposes,” he added.
As part of the week, the Education Ministry also launched a national campaign with the message: “Before you share, think of your friend.”
The campaign is meant to raise awareness of cyberbullying and encourage students, teachers and parents to be aware of the content they share online and the fact that even though it is being shared virtually, it involves real people.
According to the Education Ministry, the campaign is also aimed at helping students expand their communication skills in the virtual world and “develop the muscle of empathy.”
“Children and teenagers are on the Net for long periods of time, and for the most part will be the first to see and know if their friends need help,” said Einav Lock, the director of the ministry’s Assistance and Prevention Program. “Therefore, we must strengthen the message among students that they can seek help as well as help others.”
The ministry’s psychological counseling service added that it is important for adults to identify the signs of cyber-bullying and to intervene and help when needed.
On Tuesday, Israel Police held some 1,000 lectures in over 300 schools. The lectures addressed Internet safety issues, including the importance of privacy, the perils of distributing hurtful or sexual pictures and videos, proper ways to participate in online and social communities as well as the dangers of meeting strangers online.
The police also appealed to parents to supervise their children when surfing the Web in an effort to minimize their exposure to sites with inappropriate content and prevent them from online predators.