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Keep virtual learning safe

Updated: May 10, 2023

Child sexual abuse prevention is just as important in the virtual space as it is in the physical environment. The virtual world could potentially place children in dangerous situations, so it’s important to create safe spaces for virtual learning. One of the dangers for youth is inadvertently clicking on a link that’s not appropriate for children. Seeing inappropriate images might have a negative psychological impact. Another avenue leading to danger can arise when there are opportunities for grooming online. An adult may gain access to a child and prompt conversations that are not appropriate. A perpetrator may use those conversations to gain the trust of the child, and that process is called grooming. Cyberbullying and harassment are also potential dangers. Virtual groups created to facilitate classroom activities could provide opportunities for cyberbullying and harassment.

Coffee County Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Joyce Prusak

We must protect children in the online environment. Online groups and activities must be monitored and managed appropriately.

Organizations can minimize dangers for children by implementing a code of conduct. If your child takes any online classes for school, private lessons or music instruction, keeping the guidelines for code of conduct in mind will help you assess the situation and make sure your child is safe. You can ask the organizations your child is involved in if they have a code of conduct for virtual learning and what it includes.

Establishing guidelines for appropriate behavior limits risks. A virtual learning environment policy needs to outline responsibilities of students, teachers and parents.

Student expectations

Student expectations need to include using respectful language and using appropriate photos and background. Students are also expected to dress appropriately and avoid distractions and side conversations. Students should be prohibited from recording pictures and videos of student or teacher work and sharing that information on social media or anywhere online. Students should be prohibited from accessing classes they are not scheduled to attend. Students should always notify teachers or administrators if they notice a safety problem on the educational platform.

Parent responsibilities

Parents of students learning online also have important responsibilities to keep the environment safe. Parents’ responsibilities should include monitoring the student’s progress, supporting a healthy learning environment and reducing distractions.

Staff responsibilities

Staff should ensure children are protected from harm in the virtual environment. Staff should apply the same classroom management principles implemented during in-person classes to classes held in the virtual environment. These principles include increasing engagement activities and addressing classroom concerns. Staff should use security measures, including allowing authenticated users to join, requiring a registration and strong passwords, controlling screen sharing and video/audio settings and locking the virtual classroom to minimize threats in online classrooms.

This information was compiled with resources from Darkness to Light.

See Virtual Learning Environment Policy template and Code of Online Conduct template.

Darkness to Light Code of Online Conduct Templat
Download PDF • 49KB

Darkness to Light VLE Policy Template
Download PDF • 61KB

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