14 Dec 2015

e-Safety legal obligations, the fall of the supremacy of pedagogy

e-Safety legal obligations, the fall of the supremacy of pedagogy

I have a proposition to make. My proposition is that it is not possible to train or educate pupils into not cyberbullying, not viewing pornography, not sexting and that the stance of many education experts[1] that pedagogy is the best route to satisfy e-Safety legal obligations is, quite simply, wrong.

I further propose that we know it’s wrong because empirical evidence and academic research tells us so.
When considering this matter I am strongly reminded of the actual words of the Byron Review on matching protective mechanisms to different stages of child development:

“….This is particularly because of the development of a key part of the brain throughout childhood – the frontal cortex, which mediates their experience and behaviour. This evidence helps us….. appreciate ways in which children’s experience of the internet can present risks. We can use these findings to help us navigate a practical and sensible approach to helping our children manage risks. This is no different to how we think about managing risk for children in the offline world, where decreasing supervision and monitoring occurs with age as we judge our children to be increasing in their competence to identify and manage risks. So, when we teach our children to cross the road safely we do it in stages:

We hold their hand when they cross the road.

We teach them to think, look both ways and then cross.

When we see that they are starting to understand this we let them cross walking beside us, without holding on to them.

Eventually we let them do it alone, maybe watching from a distance at first, but then unsupervised.

And throughout this, the environment supports them with signs and expected behaviour from others in the community – the green man, zebra crossings, speed limits and other responsible adults.”

Are we not to supervise and mediate the child’s crossing of the road just because, when they’re out playing, they’ll cross a road on their own anyway?

Are we not to take every technological step possible to stop a child being groomed in a classroom[2] – since ‘way over 50 percent of students freely admit… that they are talking to strangers’? [3]

Of course one must ensure that children are sufficiently informed and trained to navigate the online world. But even the law recognises them to be inveterate, incorrigible, die-hard risk takers and will regularly do something that is wrong knowing full well that it is wrong.

If one parses the empirical evidence on bullying, pornography and sexting; they all conclude that new norms of accepted inappropriate behaviour are growing.[4]

The children involved in the self-generation of child pornography know that it is wrong to make it as they make it. They know it is wrong to send it as they send it. They feel shame afterwards. But they do it anyway and they do it in very, very large numbers.

What do you do with children who are (normally) developmentally impaired from accurately forecasting the consequences of their actions?

How many receive education and e-safety empowerment in the morning and sext the same night?

More than we feel professionally able to admit?

I would like to propose something that might be too radical to sensibly contemplate in the current climate.

What if the notions of education and empowering those who disregard power are LESS important than technology-based supervision and interdiction tools?

Train them of course. Educate them of course. But until they’re developmentally able to understand, then build better technologies – more intelligent, more granular, seamlessly integrating between the home and school environment.

I would like to dare this:

Training, education, empowerment, enfranchisement and talking about the content they are seeing is (in reality), far, far less important than higher walls, better spotlights and better alarms.

Dr B Bandey, one of the UK’s leading experts on International IP, IT, Cloud, Internet, Big Data and e-Safety Law.

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