Promoting its #SaferInternet4EU campaign, the European Commission seeks to reach children, young people, parents, teachers, and EU citizens in general to become empowered and responsible digital users. The campaign covers a wide range of topics, such as critical thinking, media literacy and digital skills necessary to identify and promote reporting on reliable sources, the risks brought by emerging online technologies and connected devices; and provide tips on netiquette. The project also includes the Safer Internet Forum event in Autumn 2018 and a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to equip teachers in Europe with resources and activities to support teaching on online safety.

Whilst it is positive that the European Commission includes digital safety on the political agenda, there has been a distinct lack of consultation with stakeholders in the education sector, including ETUCE as the representative of teachers and education personnel across Europe. To reach teachers and schools, social partners in education should be involved in policy development on e-safety to ensure that the project reflects their expectations and needs.

ETUCE has previous experience in campaigns on the issue of internet safety, such as the 2009-10 Cyber harassment project. The actions of the project aimed to:

  • raise awareness of violence and harassment experienced in schools
  • promote exchange and dissemination of good practices on prevention of violence and harassment in schools
  • improve expertise on violence and harassment in schools
  • support education trade unions in establishing risk assessment systems in schools that include the issue of violence and harassment
  • support the inclusion of risk management on violence and harassment in collective agreements

The project identified good practices on the prevention of cyber-harassment and concluded in a set of practical guidelines on anti-cyber harassment in education.

ETUCE remains committed to promoting safe and secure working and learning environments for both teachers and students including internet safety, and reaffirms that European-level campaigns on this issue must include education social partners to ensure the best possible outcomes.

ETUCE European Director, Susan Flocken, said: 'E-safety is important for teachers and students and, as professional organisations, the involvement of unions regarding digital skills development is crucial. Teacher unions represent the voice of teachers when it comes to working conditions of staff and professional issues of teaching content'.

To read the factsheet on the SaferInternet4EU campaign, click here.