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May 9, 2012 permalink

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The latest excuse to turn children over to child protectors: they use social networking. Paul Woodward, head of St Whites School in Britain, is threatening to snitch on parents who let their kids use Facebook.



shop: Chiefly British Informal.
to behave treacherously toward; inform on; betray.

Primary school head vows to shop parents to social services if pupils use Facebook

  • 60 per cent of his primary pupils have Facebook access

A primary school head has threatened to shop parents to social services if they allow his pupils to use Facebook and other networking sites.

Paul Woodward is concerned that youngsters who use the sites risk being exposed to porn and online grooming.

He has warned parents that persistently letting children flout Facebook’s 13-plus age rule could warrant investigation by child protection teams.

He estimates that at least 60 per cent of the 270-plus children at his school in the Forest of Dean have access to social networking sites.

Pupils at St Whites School range from four to 11 years old.

Mr Woodward, a branch secretary for the National Association of Head Teachers, the country’s biggest heads’ union, yesterday demanded a ban on children setting up social media accounts – because of the risk of accessing inappropriate material.

Internet companies and the Government must do more to protect impressionable children, he said.

Head teachers are also demanding greater protection from porn accessed through smartphones, as well as measures to stop young children playing 18-rated video games.

Children as young as four are hurting each other, not realising their victims won’t get up straight away like figures in computer games do, it was claimed. The calls will add to pressure on David Cameron to bring in measures to protect a generation of youngsters.

In a breakthrough for the Mail’s Block Online Porn campaign, which calls for content filter systems on online accounts, the Prime Minister this week revealed that adults who wish to view porn may have to ‘opt in’ rather than being able to access it by default.

Yesterday Mr Woodward welcomed the move as a ‘good step forward’. But he added: ‘The real concern is children being able to have Facebook accounts when they are not old enough, and parents condoning it. If my school is representative, it’s 60 per cent at least have got access.’

He said he had had cases where he told parents: ‘It’s illegal for you to do this, you shouldn’t be doing it for your child. You need to close down that account or I might have to tell the safeguarding people that you are exposing your child to stuff that’s not suitable.’

Mr Woodward added: ‘Children open themselves up to grooming, and then you don’t know what sort of content they could get hold of.’

Many parents lack awareness of the potential dangers to children from the variety of links and ‘apps’ that can be accessed through Facebook and other sites, he warned.

As soon as his school becomes aware a child has a Facebook account it contacts the company to get the profile blocked.

He spoke out as the NAHT gathers in Harrogate for its annual conference this weekend. He will propose calling on the Government to investigate misuse of social media.

Other heads warned that abuse of technology was a ‘growing problem’ in schools. Kenny Frederick, a London head, said parents were buying smartphones on which children ‘can access pornography, anything’.

John Killeen, a head from North Yorkshire, said pupils were copying behaviour they see in video games.

Stephen Watkins, from Leeds, added: ‘Four-year-olds don’t understand if you hit someone over the head with a brick they’re not going to jump up immediately as they do on the screen.’

Helen Clegg, of North Tyneside, warned of ‘deplorable’ attacks on heads via Facebook.

Facebook says there is nothing it can do to stop children under 13 setting up accounts, despite it being a breach of its own policy.

Source: Daily Mail