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Primary and secondary school pupils mark Safer Internet Day 2013 through a debate on digital violence
Belgrade, 5. February 2013. – Forty pupils from primary and secondary schools from across Serbia marked the Safer Internet Day through a debate called „Share a smile, like love, hate hatE posts“. During the discussion they demonstrated a high level of awareness on different types of risks in the virtual world , but admitted that they often do not have the right response and do not quite know how to protect themsleves in a number of situations.
The debate was organised within the „Stop Digital Violence“ project implemented by UNICEF in partnership with Telenor company and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The project aim is prevention of abuse of the digital media and awareness raising on the role and importance of digital media in children’s lives.
The pupils discussed the results of a survey on children's exposure to digital violence which had been conducted by the Institute for Psychology as part of the project “Stop Digital Violence”, shared their experiences and gave offered their own recommendations on risk prevetion on the Internet. Althour aware of the risks and dangers on the Internet, they confessed that only when they have a personal experience or bad situations in their closes environment they understand the true scope of viral violence. One of the participants shared a friend’s, and talked about emotional trauma a malicious act could cause. “Just one malicius comment on someone’s photograph on Facebook can start an avalanche of insults, resulting in labeling throughout schooling“, she said. The group agreed that such situations could be overcome only with strong support by friends and families.
The discussion was also held around the privacy issues - the fact that most children and adolescents easily reveal their personal data on social networks and uncritically accept to meet their online frinds off line. The survey confrmed that at least pupils from each classrom surveyed had accepted to meet off line, thus exposing themselves to a risk.
The pupils further said that they often create unpleasant situation to their peers just for the sake of having fun, without wanting to harm anyone. „I think we are all aware of the consequences of violence and insults on the Internet. But we do not think about them and only when we personally experience them, we realize what we can do to others“, said a secondary school pupil who recommended that wider awareness raising campaigns should be carried out.
Having watched three short films on specific cases of violence on the Internet and conseunces they cased, the pupils compared them with similar cases in their schools, and concluded that it was of high importance to oppose violence, make it visible and lessen the nmber of passive observers who do not react to violence.
The debate was live streamed, with over 100 pupils from other Serbian schools participating in it online with comments and suggestions for positive solutions.
The team iplementing the „Stop Digital Violence“ project will use the outcomes of this debate in developing training programmes for pupils, teachers and parents, primarily those included into the anti-bullying programe „School without Violence“.
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