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The best way to protect pupils from cyber-bullying?

7 February 2011

The Education Bill contains controversial provisions that extend school staff’s powers to search and seize electronic devices from pupils. They can then examine, erase, retain or dispose of data if they believe there is a good reason to do so.

The human rights organisation Liberty has argued that the powers to take a phone away are more suitable for terror enquiries. Other commentators call the powers disproportionate and excessively intrusive, potentially damaging a sacred relationship of trust between teachers and pupils. The DfE says the powers are intended to help staff protect pupils against cyber-bullying.

Staff will need clear guidance on when it will be considered reasonable to search, seize and in some cases destroy a pupil’s data. But even then it is doubtful whether school staff will choose to exercise such intrusive powers in order to combat cyber-bullying. Surely engaging parents and educating pupils on awareness, effects, repercussions and management of cyber-bullying would be a more effective solution?

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Mark Blois

Mark Blois

Partner and Head of Education

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