Port schools play it cyber safe

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HALF the schools in Port Phillip have signed up to the state government’s eSmart program that aims to reduce student exposure to cyber-bullying and online sexual predators.

More than 1000 Victorian schools, including 10 of the 20 primary and secondary schools in the City of Port Phillip, have registered to join the $10.5 million program.

The initiative, developed by child protection charity the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, focuses on educating students, teachers and parents about online responsibilities.

Schools are encouraged to create policies, procedures and practices for managing cyber-safety, cyber-bullying, sexting, identity theft and fraud.

Albert Park Primary School, which registered for the eSmart program a year ago, has developed guidelines for its 430 students that detail acceptable behaviour.

The school holds weekly cyber-safety lessons and is in the process of electing two students from each grade to form an eSmart committee.

One of the school’s eSmart co-ordinators, Cassandra Staer, said the program was vital to encouraging “online values”.

“We have iPads and laptops in every classroom so it’s very important,” she said. “It’s about setting acceptable terms of use and instilling the value of being smart online.”

Alannah and Madeline Foundation chief executive Judith Slocombe said Victorian schools were leading the country in cyber safety.

“It is wonderful to see the numbers of schools coming on board with eSmart Schools increasing in Port Phillip,” Dr Slocombe said.

“We’ve been impressed with how keenly they have implemented the smart, safe and responsible online principles across their communities.”

Australia-wide, 1400 schools have joined the eSmart program since it launched 18 months ago.

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