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UNICEF taps BT for online child safety programme

Keeley Hawes UNICEF

UK incumbent BT has announced a partnership with charity UNICEF to promote online safety for children. The three-year programme, dubbed ‘The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters’, will involve the telco providing funding for BT experts to go into UK schools and train teachers on issues concerning online safety as well as leading workshops for teachers, parents and children on the issues.

Pete Oliver, commercial director of BT’s consumer division, said at the launch event held at the BT Tower in London, that BT took online safety for children seriously and that it was heavily invested in the issue.

Oliver said that two volunteers from its staff will visit 600 schools across the UK that are signed up to UNICEF’s children’s Rights Respecting Schools programme. Through the training, BT aims to educate up to 21,000 parents and children, rising to 35,000 as the teachers are able to continue the workshops without expert assistance.

BT has said research it has conducted revealed that 52 per cent of parents with school children said they did not feel they had enough support when it comes to talking to their children about online safety. In response to this, Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director of fundraising for UNICEF UK, said the programme was designed to “empower parents to protect their children online”.

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Speaking at the launch event, Julie Lunnon, a citizenship teacher at Cannon Lane Primary School in London said that while parents recognised the benefits of access to the internet, many expressed concerns regarding how much time children spent online and cyber bullying, and did not know that some games have chat rooms where they could potentially talk to strangers and that photos contain GPS data that could be used to track children.

The event was also attended by actress and UNICEF UK supporter Keeley Hawes. “It’s great BT and UNICEF UK have come together to address online safety for children in schools, an issue that is vitally important in a society increasingly influenced by digital media, Hawes said. “Supporting children’s rights is an issue I am very passionate about, both as a mother and supporter of the great work UNICEF UK is doing with Rights Respecting Schools. It’s fantastic that hundreds of these schools will be involved in this partnership”.

 


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