Police find a new way to deliver online safety message to schools

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Amber Valley’s Digital PCSO and her colleagues faced some tough questioning from school children during the pilot of a new policing initiative.

As part of the Protect Yourself Online scheme, PCSO Shevani Raichura teamed up with PC Neil Hopwell and PCSO Alison Dare from the Ripley Safer Neighbourhood Team to pilot virtual cyber surgeries with local schools last week.

“How can we stop cyberbullying?” and “What should you do if a stranger requests to follow you on social media?” were just two of the questions asked by youngsters.

The policing team visited Richardson Endowed Primary School in Smalley and Codnor Community Primary School to run the trial sessions.

PC Hopwell said: “I began both sessions with a couple of ice breaking, hands-up surveys, such as: ‘who has Facebook/social media?’; ‘Who has access to the internet in their room’; ‘Who plays online games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto’, for example.

“I was quite surprised by the conversations that this sparked, particularly around age restrictions of sites, apps and games.”

The youngsters then logged on to their computers to put their own questions to PCSO Raichura.

Alongside questions about bullying and contact with strangers, they also wanted to know about age restrictions on games and apps, , and how to play online games safely.

PCSO Raichura said: “The virtual surgeries were a great hit with the youngsters and it was fantastic to see them really engaging with the topic and asking cyber safety questions based on their own experiences.

“It’s important to understand why people behave the way they do online, what information is safe to share, and how to get help.”

PC Hopwell added: “The sessions generated a positive response from the teachers and youngsters, and they’re a great alternative to the traditional classroom talks.

“Overall I think that it is a fantastic concept and is a step in the right direction of attempting to move with the times.”

To replay the school virtual surgeries and read the questions and answers, visit http://bit.ly/1VIAAow.

For more cybercrime prevention advice and support, visit the Protect Yourself Online hub at www.derbyshire.police.uk/cybercrime and follow PCSO Raichura on Twitter using @DigitalPCSO.