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Facebook to train UK students as cyber safety experts

Facebook, Childnet International and The Diana Award are teaching young people to become 'digital safety ambassadors' in the classroom.
Nick Summers, @nisummers
October 16, 2017
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Facebook has pledged more than £1 million to help turn British schoolchildren into "digital safety ambassadors." The scheme, created by Childnet International and The Diana Award, will teach students about social media, cyberbullying and the hazards of the wider internet. They will then act as a support group for their friends and fellow pupils, fielding questions and leading online safety initiatives in the classroom. Facebook says its investment will allow every UK secondary school to have its own digital safety ambassador, should they be interested in the project. In total, that could be an extra 4,500 pupils sharing good advice with their peers.

Digital safety ambassadors fall into two camps. The Diana Award trains anti-bullying ambassadors with a mixture of face-to-face training, online resources and forums. The charity, set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, also provides an online newsletter and monthly challenges, which can be assigned to students as homework, that tackle LGBTQ+ issues, racism and online behaviours and attitudes. Childnet, meanwhile, creates "digital leaders" with a dedicated online curriculum about internet safety and "resilience building." Facebook's funding will extend the reach of both programmes with more classroom visits and better online resources.

As part of the announcement, Child International, The Diana Award and Facebook have created a physical, immersive experience in London called 'House of Us.' It will run today and tomorrow and allow young people to experience many of the problems that their contemporaries face online, as well as the impact a friendly, reliable support system can make. The installation will include an "audio maze" that mimicks the complex emotions people feel while being bullied, and a light room that responds to positive feedback and support. Staff will survey the students afterwards and use their comments to shape future projects and classroom resources.

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