Setting an example


Setting an example

With the huge rise of online bullying and with Anti Bullying week, on the theme of “Choose Respect”, commencing 12 November, we need to think about why so many children treat each other with little respect.

It is interesting to see the recently conducted survey by the Anti Bullying Alliance.  Their research talks about the worrying numbers of children (41% of 11-16 year olds) who had seen adults bullying each other in the past 6 months – 21% face-to-face, 18% online and 20% in the media.  Not only do children recognise that this sets a bad example, but the report shows 97% s would like to see more respect shown between adults.

I have been talking for quite some time about adults embracing positive behaviour and how, if we change this, it could reduce the number of children being bullied.  I am starting to believe that, if we started with the grownups, we really could make a difference.  I see frequent posts on social media speaking about people in a negative way.  I have seen posts calling people “selfish” for parking their car incorrectly; another calling a person an “idiot” for jumping in front of a train and causing mayhem with transport.  When our children are being bullied, parents post their frustration online, which I do understand, but this is contradicting the very advice we give children at school; telling them not to respond or retaliate to bullying.

Have we lost the ability to feel compassion and think about why people might act in certain ways?  Are we becoming a nation of opinionated campaigners who can’t tolerate an opposing viewpoint or debate an issue without throwing insults?  I do believe this strongly and I regularly talk about this subject in my workshops.  Adults are worse than children when it comes to posting online.  It is no wonder that children have little respect for each other when, in fact, they are just mirroring behaviour that they have learnt from the adults around them.


Another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming

Another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming

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It is a shame that the first week our children are back to school, we have another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming. The numbers referred to in the National Crime Agency news report 1 are sobering – over 80,000 individual industry referrals for child sex abuse images in 2017 – a 700% increase since 2012. Areas identified in the report as having the greater risk of contact abuse include grooming and live-streaming.

I don’t think most of us realise that we use live streaming nearly every day. Most social media apps offer it as a service. My favourite is Facetime and I use Skype for work every day. It is also, unfortunately, being used by paedophiles to groom children and live-stream child abuse. Apparently, offenders are using the dark web to groom children on the mainstream internet.
I know I have said this before, but it isn’t just parents’ and schools’ responsibility; it is the social networks’ responsibility too, and I totally agree with Sajid Javid MP’s demand for the tech companies to do more to combat online child sex abuse. According to the NCA report, “the technology exists for industry to design-out these offences, to stop these images being shared. Whilst some online platforms have taken important steps to improve safety, we [NCA] are asking them to take it to the next step; to innovate, to use their brightest minds, and to invest in preventing these online offences from happening in the first place.”

What will it take to spur these technology companies to action? How many young lives must be ruined before things change? There are already 400 people arrested in the UK every month for these types of offences. The more I think about it, the angrier I become. I believe these companies should be fined millions for allowing this type of content to remain on their sites. Money seems to be the language they best understand. I know there is the dark web, but so much of this is happening via the live streaming apps like Do we look to them to change their apps? Maybe there needs to be stronger age verification? On all the gambling sites you must put in ID and it must be verified. My son is a bit of an entrepreneur and desperate to have a Trading Account, but he can’t as he isn’t 18. Why do we not have these types of rules for Apps that put children at huge risk. The mental scarring of such an ordeal is unimaginable.
It is probably no coincidence that the number of offences is increasing while the hours our children are spending online is also growing. Education has got to be key. Children are unknowingly putting themselves at risk by downloading and accessing free chat rooms, apps and websites that support random messaging, voice and live streaming. This type of social networking promotes random contact with people online which can be exploited by paedophiles. Children must be taught not to share personal details, particularly anything that might identify them or their location.

When a child is being groomed online, it takes some time, it doesn’t happen overnight. We need to educate children on how to recognise this. We happily talk about Strange Danger, yet sometimes ignore the online world where children are often more unsupervised than they are outside the home. These predators behave like our children’s best friends. They make them feel good, feel part of something, promise them treats and then cleverly manipulate them to make them feel guilty and obliged to do what they demand. We must explain this to children and help them to identify the signs, to use their intuition if someone seems a bit “too nice”. They must be empowered to say “No” and know that it is not their fault and that we, as parents, will not blame them if they make a mistake.

We also need to discuss, in an age appropriate way, sexual acts via streaming. I know it’s tough enough talking about the birds and the bees, but the way children behave during live streaming is likely to be quite spontaneous and unless we warn children about this risk, how can we expect them to make the right decisions on the spur of the moment.
Above all, make sure you are alert to your child’s need to discuss any problems. Perhaps just ask them, at a quiet moment when no-one else is around, if they are happy and whether anything is worrying them – give them that chance to unburden themselves and you might save them from something much worse.


Preparing Children For a Life Online – British Schools of the Middle East

Preparing Children For a Life Online

Preparing Children For Online Life

For the Schools of the Middle East

4th October 2018

11am Bahrain Time

Gooseberry Planet is passionate about raising the profile of E-Safety in schools and about engaging and educating the whole school community.  Parents and teachers have a combined responsibility to protect and prepare children for a life online.  But are we doing enough?  Do we feel comfortable talking about online dangers? CAN we talk about them or does lack of knowledge, coupled with the digital divide between us and the younger generation, make this difficult?

During the workshop, we will explore all the current social media platforms and discuss the current threats and vulnerabilities that exist online for everyone.  You will challenge and reflect upon their own online behaviours and explore practical strategies that can be used immediately to keep themselves and others safer online. The delegates will also investigate Facebook, instagram, google, you tube etc.. privacy settings, Live gaming devices, Live video streaming and fake profiles. 

The session will highlight the importance of involving parents in the child’s learning journey and show how Gooseberry Planet can equip teachers with a complete toolkit to effectively and confidently address the subject of E-Safety.


Personal Information


Welcome back!!

I know that you are being bombarded with back to school emails – Lots of different offers to tempt you. Fortunately, our Gooseberry Alerts are free, so no need to plead with you to sign up. 😊

Personal data is such a big topic.  We have all had our fair share of emails from companies pleading with us to allow them to email us.   The funny bit is that we all get very involved with the GDPR concept, but we do not think twice about the amount of information we share on social media.  Sometimes I want to scream at some of my friends who are always copying and pasting status, filling in quizzes and letting the world know that they are off on holiday.  You might think that isn’t personal data, but it is.  It’s personal to you.  Any information you give on any platform allows the social media company access to share unless you tell it not to do so.

I learnt the other day that if you have a Gmail account, the Google employees can read your PERSONAL emails, if you have connected your account to third party apps.  Also, Google say they are not tracking your location but apparently if you have an Android phone or have google apps ( on your iPhone, turning off “location history” (which most of would think would do the trick) only stops some of the tracking.   It is time to act and protest.  The internet is not well legislated and the large tech companies are basically cashing in.

We all need to be a little more vigilant with our data.  I now use something called a VPN, a virtual private network.  It cost me £30 for 3 years.  The VPN encrypts my messages and enables me to use unsecured public Wi-Fi without taking the risk of my communications being intercepted or hacked.   I am always logging into public Wi-Fi areas, when I am on the train, in hotels or a coffee shop.  It is almost second nature now, that when you visit a location, the first thing is to find the Wi-Fi key but these public Wi-Fi connections are very vulnerable and, unless you use a VPN, you should restrict your activity on them to web-browsing and not access any accounts and definitely don’t make online payments.

With the new school year beginning, a quick reminder that our Gooseberry Parent App is free of charge to all parents.  All they need to do is register via our website.  All they need to give us is their email and we do not pass on their data to anyone else.

Finally, I need your support.  Are you a teacher, parent or someone that works in the education technology industry?  We all have the right to a safe and secure life online, but we should be aware that personal information is big business! As adults, we are equipped to manage our personal information online, but children need better protection.  The Age Appropriate Design Code is under consultation.  It seeks to minimise the collection of children’s data by amount, kind and spread.   It supports a child’s right to retract, to correct or to challenge data held about them. We are asking Gooseberry Planet supporters to submit to the Information Commissioner’s call for evidence.

Gooseberry Guru
Team Gooseberry have been working hard this summer and added more workshops to our Gooseberry Guru. Facebook and WhatsApp are now in there with some videos on how to change privacy.  These are also available to Parents via Gooseberry Parent.  This is free of charge to parents.

Gooseberry Alert
This month’s Gooseberry Alert focusses on ‘Personal Information’ – a great topic to share with your parents.  If you haven’t registered for this service already, please do.  It is free of charge – just click here  and register.

Department for Education
KCSIE September 2018 takes effect this month. This will replace the September 2017 version, so make sure all of your policies reflect this.   Click here and look at the changes that have been made.

Best wishes for a happy, productive and safe new term.