Following a decision by Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, school pupils across Hampshire Policing Area will be able to benefit from a Cyber Ambassador scheme.
In 2017/18 the Commissioner’s Youth Commission piloted the peer led Cyber Ambassador Scheme with nine primary and seven secondary schools, including Sherfield School, Hook, after a survey highlighted cyber safety as a big concern for young people.
Of the 12- 15 year olds surveyed, 96% felt that the internet can be a bit risky; one in twelve say they have been contacted by someone they did not know whilst one in three say that they have seen hate speech online.
The Cyber Ambassador scheme enables skilled-up, informed pupils to educate and offer advice and support to their peers on staying safe online.
Members of the Youth Commission designed the materials and delivered the training to schools in the pilot scheme. For secondary schools this covers issues such as sexting, cyber stalking and grooming.
Primary Schools learn how to stay safe and defeat cyber sea monsters Selphire (selfies) Meanataur (cyberbullying), Angler (searching), Info-Eator (privacy) and Bi-Diphorus (befriending).
The Commissioner has now agreed to roll out Cyber Ambassadors following overwhelming positive feedback for the pilot. Evaluation of the project found that the flexibility of the scheme made it easy for schools to implement and it successfully met the cyber needs of students. Peers educating peers proved a powerful approach, particularly for secondary level students.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane said: “Cyber security for all ages really matters. Our lives are increasingly played out online, with younger people in particular making the most of the benefits that technology can bring. However those who wish us harm are also increasingly using technology, they are clever and we all need to understand the risks these people and their activity creates. I congratulate my Youth Commission for all their hard work.”
Sophie Smith, 23, Youth Commission ambassador, said: “For many young people, social media is an extension of themselves and an expression of their identity. The Cyber Ambassador project has utilised that, by empowering young people to be part of the solution, rather than diminishing their ability to adapt to a continually advancing online world. It has been incredibly rewarding to see what the cyber ambassador project has achieved as well as its potential to reach more young people in the future. I feel privileged to be a part of that process.”