Cyber stalking and cyber bullying are new-age terms of torment that target pre-teen and teenage students.
Some schools in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, acting on an advisory issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on August 18, have begun generating awareness on safe and effective use of Internet and digital technologies.
Sapphire International School in Hardag, on the fringes of Ranchi, has launched a Cyber Peace Club that aims to educate students and their parents on safety in the virtual world. Likewise, Jamshedpur Public School has decided to host special sessions for technologically challenged parents.
Many other cradles like Vidya Bharati Chinmaya Vidyalaya in Jamshedpur and Guru Nanak Higher Secondary School in Ranchi are planning campus camps on cyber laws and safety.
The board directive for affiliated schools last week listed measures such as installing firewalls, filtering and monitoring software mechanisms, deploying digital surveillance system and allowing children to access only pre-selected websites appropriate to their age group, among others.
The guidelines also mention that schools can take strict disciplinary action against anyone trying to bypass cyber security to access inappropriate content.
Doipaon Das, the administrative head of Sapphire, said their peace club – rolled out a week ahead of the formal directive from CBSE – had drawn up a series of activities such as debates, lectures and demonstrations on cyber harassment and ethical hacking.
“We have a strict monitoring regime in our school as far as Internet use is concerned. We cannot ban Internet because it aides studies, but we tell students where to stop. What is also important is sensitising parents,” said Das.
Vineet Kumar, a cyber expert in Ranchi, said children became victims of cyber harassment primarily because parents are unaware.
“It is quite scary, actually. There are mobile apps and games that can entice students into doing something they may consider challenging, but end up harming themselves,” Kumar said, perhaps referring to the Blue Whale Challenge that has triggered a rash of suicides across the globe, including a few in India.
“There are websites that facilitate child exploitation. Students are exposed to such technology and monitoring can be their saviour. While schools can sensitise and control Internet use, parents have to be more aware too,” added Kumar whose organisation, Cyber Peace Foundation, works on virtual security.
Namita Agarwal, principal of Jamshedpur Public School, agreed.
“Students are generally smarter than their parents when it comes to technology. So, we have decided to make parents more knowledgeable. We had had a pilot session with mothers earlier this year and they loved it. Now, parents have demanded more such sessions and we shall increase the frequency to reach out to every parent,” she said.