English students will face tougher guidelines and stronger online filters set to monitor internet use in a series of steps being taken to protect the country's children from being targets of radicalization. UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan explains that ministers are afraid that young students could be targeted by terrorist extremists, according to BBC News.
Alison Kershaw of The Mirror explains the reasons for the changes:
"The move comes amid growing concerns that some youngsters are at risk of being targeted by extremist groups, and a number of high-profile cases involving schoolchildren travelling or attempting to travel, to Syria.Ministers said that in some cases, young people had been able to access information about self-proclaimed Islamic State, otherwise known as Daesh, and foreign fighters through school computers."
Along with stricter monitoring of students' online activities, schools will also be required to filter any content that could be inappropriate along with teaching children about internet safety and terrorism. Other issues such as cyberbullying and pornography will also be addressed in the new guidelines, according to the Department for Education.
Many schools already have some monitoring and filter systems in practice, but these are being upgraded and enhanced to protect students further. All of the schools in England that have IT systems are being advised on how to use the new guidelines and spot any concerns quickly. Morgan explained:
"As a parent, I've seen just what an important role the internet can play in children's education. But it can also bring risks, which is why we must do everything we can to help children stay safe online – at school and at home."
Included in these plans are ways make sure that both parents and students are informed about radicalization. Andrew Sparrow of The Guardian shares that according to the Education Secretary:
"These measures are delivering on the Government's commitment to keep children safe from harm, as well as providing helpful support and information for professionals and parents so we are all equipped to help protect children in this digital age."
Russell Hobby, the General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, supports the initiative. He feels that while the internet is a powerful tool, it can pose risks for students. He welcomes "greater clarity" on ways to put proper filters in place and enhance monitoring to safeguard these kids.
Two new guides will also be published for keeping kids safe online. One will be for social media firms, and the other for parents. Advice for parents is also available on the Thinkuknow website.
School officials are also planning to start a review of homeschooling. The move comes in an effort to make sure that home-schooled kids are properly educated and being kept safe from elements that could radicalize them.