This year, we are dedicating a whole month to think about, learn about and promote safe and responsible use of the Internet by our children
This year, children (and we too) are spending more time online than ever. The coronavirus has forced us to make many changes to our lifestyles, and many of us are now managing to adhere to a normal routine and to our ongoing activities thanks only to the Internet. We learn online, work online, meet family and friends online, buy online, play games online, watch movies and also simply pass the time online.
The Internet is an integral part of our lives and that is great – because it opens us up to a world of unlimited opportunities and allows us to maintain a normal routine even in times of instability, such as this.
However, despite the many advantages, we need to remember that the Internet also lends itself to risky and harmful situations – violence, people that want to hurt others, unsuitable content, abusive content, anonymity, and masking, etc.
And therefore, this year in particular, we need to focus the spotlight on informed, careful, responsible and safe use of the Internet on all devices that have Internet access.
Given the considerable importance that we attach to the issue, the Child Online Protection Bureau has dedicated a whole month this year to the protection of children online, including the National Safe Web Surfing Week. This year, a whole month will be dedicated to the subject of 'Safe to Connect':
Responsibility for the information that we share and distribute
Safe and careful use of websites and apps
Acquaintance with the settings on the devices and apps that we use
Respectful and sensitive behavior towards others
Smart and sensitive maintenance of social and family relationships
Standing with, and not standing on the sidelines
Coping tools – seeking help in times of distress
The National Month features a special logo chosen with the assistance of all the partners. You can download the logo chosen (found at the end of the article) and use it in activities dedicated to the National Month.
The goals of the National Week
Given the central role the Internet plays in our lives, the European Union established a Safer Internet Day, held at the beginning of February every year. This day is dedicated to creating safe cyberspace for all users, especially children.
This is the 15th consecutive year that Israel is marking the Safer Internet Day and the National Safer Internet Week, and this year we have chosen to dedicate a whole month to safe web surfing. This month, Israel joins another 130 countries in marking February 9th as the International Safer Internet Day.
The international Safer Internet Day and the National Child Online Protection Month are dedicated to increasing awareness among children and youth, parents and professionals in Israel and around the world regarding prudent and responsible use of the Internet, and regarding moral, responsible and protected conduct online. During the Week, professionals on the subject promote safe and ethical conduct on the Internet and raise awareness about online hazards, about preventing and contending with cyberbullying, about the importance of protecting the privacy of others, and about protecting the right to individual privacy.
The Child Online Protection Bureau, under the leadership of the Ministry of Community Empowerment and Advancement and the Israel Police, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and the Ministry of Justice, aims to promote safe web surfing and tolerance among children and youth online. The Child Online Protection Bureau has spearheaded National Child Online Protection Month, and is joined by additional partners from the public sector, the third sector, the private sector and the academic sector.
During the week, a broad spectrum of activities will be held throughout the country, focusing on safe, careful, respectful, connecting and respectful use of the Internet – activities that recognize the central role of the Internet in our lives and in the lives of the children and youth, but that, at the same time, raise awareness about the hazards inherent in the Internet when users behave irresponsibly and without exercising discretion.
Children and youth will be invited to analyze how they use the Internet, the place of the Internet in their lives, the importance that they attach to their digital image, and the content that they are exposed to and that they distribute on to others. At the same time, they will learn about the positive aspects of Internet as a means for self-expression, for bringing people closer together and strengthening social relationships, and for enrichment and learning.
In addition to the activities for children and youth in various educational facilities, activities will also be offered to parents and in the community in order to promote parental engagement in the online lives of their children and to encourage an open dialogue between the parents and their children.
Because of the constraints imposed by the coronavirus, most of the activities planned this year will be delivered in a range of digital formats.
Promotion of advocacy activities on the website and in the social media - this month, the 105 site and social media will be dedicated to a diverse range of content in Hebrew, English and Arabic around a central theme
Launch of new advocacy videos for children and youth
Distribution of special posters for parents, children and youth
Joint work with the youth forum of the Child Online Protection Bureau to produce videos
Promoting of advocacy activity and transferring of information, reports and data to the media
Online collaborations, panels and broadcasts at institutions of higher learning: over the month, joint lectures and panels will be hosted at Israeli universities and colleges, with the participation of representatives from academia and the Bureau. The panels will be broadcast live on Facebook and on the radio channels of the host institutions. Online lectures for students, researchers, parents and relevant professionals, addressing the behavior and conduct of children and youth online
Lectures by Bureau employees: during the National Month, Bureau employees will deliver lectures to professional staff in the hospitals and social services facilities, to parents in workplaces, to academic facilities, and at events to mark the National Month in the local authorities, etc.
A symposium on the topic of children and youth with special needs online
The Bureau is participating in many other activities through collaborations with the partnering Ministries, as detailed below.
The Ministry of Community Empowerment and Advancement, through the Israel Authority for Prevention of Violence, Alcohol and Drug Abuse - Community Security
As part of the Safer Internet Month, the Authority will organize a variety of activities in the local authorities throughout the country, including lectures, workshops and events, with emphasis on activities in the community, in informal education frameworks, and with parents and professionals in the afternoons and evenings.
The activities will be conducted in accordance with the instructions and restrictions of the Purple Badge standard, and in coordination and collaboration with all the relevant parties in the locality. The activities will include convening of locality committees, symposiums, lectures by experts and police officers, locality gatherings, training and instruction for professionals and other "gatekeepers" in the community, activities in the youth movements, lectures for parents, parental action initiatives in local parent associations and volunteer parent patrols, publicity and advocacy on local authority websites and in the social media channels, and activities initiated through youth leadership groups, etc.
Each year, hundreds of police officers from youth units in police stations, from community policing, from the Cyber Unit and from the 105 Unit in Lahav 433 [the crime-fighting umbrella organization within the Israel Police] give thousands of lectures at schools and in the community, to tens of thousands of youths, using an advocacy presentation on safe web surfing developed for a specific chosen topic.
This year, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the special presentation currently being built for the topic chosen will be taped in a recording studio (courtesy of the Ministry of Education) and delivered over Zoom to all the students.
The Ministry of Education
The era of the coronavirus pandemic, and the lockdowns specifically, necessitate physical distancing, sometimes also resulting in social distancing. An intensive week of activities will be conducted in the schools to encourage students to maintain social proximity, even if remotely. We will guide the students in how to conduct themselves online in a protected, safe and sensitive manner with regard to themselves and to others.
The Ministry of Education is preparing a wide and diverse range of content and activities for students, for the pedagogical staff, and for parents. Some of the activities will be conducted online, in accordance with the restrictions and procedures. All the content will be published in an online leaflet for pedagogical staff.
Activities for students:
Age-appropriate life skills classes for students on information security and cybersecurity, adapted to different societies and to special education
'Academia Online' [Academia BaReshet] – online lectures for students that will be delivered by representatives of the Ministry of Education, representatives of other Government Ministries and representatives of NGOs (Amutot), and that will be broadcast in the framework of the National Online Broadcast Lessons
Lectures by police officers and representatives of 105 – will be broadcast as part of the National Online Broadcast Lessons. Lectures geared to the higher primary school grades and to the high schools
Leveraging of youth leaderships to promote safe and optimal behavior online – peers and influencers, student councils, etc.
Distribution of age-appropriate information leaflets to students adapted to the society they live in, in collaboration with the Child Online Protection Bureau – 105
Activities for pedagogical staff:
National conference for district officials to make the National Safe Web Surfing Week accessible to them
Training for pedagogical staff in schools and in district gatherings
Activities for parents:
Dialogue circles for students, parents and pedagogical staff
Advocacy videos for parents
Video to promote the National Week
Advertising of stickers, and uploading of posts and questions to stimulate interest in the social media networks ahead of the National Week
Distribution of posters to advertise the 105 hotline to schools, in collaboration with the Child Online Protection Bureau – 105
Circulating of the drawing and video competition run by the Child Online Protection Bureau – 105
This year, because of the coronavirus epidemic, the healthcare team cannot visit the children and their parents in the hospitals and clinics in person, and will therefore focus mainly on Zoom broadcasts to clinicians – psychologists and social workers in the healthcare system who meet the youth in emotional therapy settings – in order to talk about the link between life in cyberspace, the challenges and the dangers in online behavior and the link between these and the therapeutic space. Lectures will also be delivered to nurses at Tipat Halav - Family Health Centers, who meet the parents of small children, in order to provide the nurses with important tools to guide the young parents in appropriate and safe Internet usage from a tender age.
Throughout the month, flyers and advocacy materials will be posted on the bulletin boards of hospitals and mental health clinics in order to raise awareness among the staff, parents and hospitalized children.
The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services
During the Safe Web Surfing Week, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services will deliver lectures in social services facilities in the community that serve children and youth. The lectures will be given to the facility staff and parents in order to publicize the core issues of the Child Online Protection Bureau to the youth and their parents, to raise awareness and encourage a professional dialogue, and to prompt the professional staff to hold discussions and think seriously about being safe online during the Month. The lectures will also be given to professional staff in social services departments and in the various social services.
Lectures will also be delivered to therapeutic dormitories for children and youth, and dialogue circles will be hosted with pedagogical and therapeutic staff at those facilities. Lectures will also be given to professional staff in the foster care services who maintain care-related contact with all the children in foster care in Israel.
The lectures will also be given to vocational schools that come under the Labor Branch. The schools are attended by youths studying a whole range of vocations. The lectures will also be conveyed digitally to the professional staff in order to stimulate a professional dialogue on being safe online.
During the National Month, the social services desk will launch a work team of professionals and parents of children with special needs to focus on their online behavior. The team will also address the distribution of professional materials and relevant training in prudent Internet usage for children with special needs. During the Month, a one-day professional symposium is also scheduled on the subject of children with special needs and cyberbullying. Also during the Month, professional advocacy materials will be distributed explaining and raising awareness about being safe online in social services departments, and in the various facilities for children and youth in the community, in out-of-home placement facilities and on the Ministry website. All the activities carried out in this month will be published in a professional leaflet that will be launched by the social services desk and disseminated via the Ministry website.
The Ministry of Justice
Following several grave phenomena discovered among the youth, including at schools throughout the country, the Office of the State Attorney, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, launched the Messer project, in a special campaign ahead of the safe web surfing month.
Jurists from all Ministry of Justice units will deliver an online lesson plan, prepared specially for the National Month, to high school students throughout Israel. The lesson will address issues such as the importance of explicit consent and what constitutes a situation that prevents consent for sex, which unfortunately, is not always completely clear to the youth.
Work will also focus on content for the Arab sector and making information accessible in Arabic, and lectures will also be given in Arabic at schools.
The Ministry of Justice and the Office of the State Attorney will also upload short posts to the social media networks, including information about related crimes and ways of contending with them. Information will also be posted about online sexual extortion and about enforcement implemented in the past year for offenses under the "Video Law", etc.
The Ministry of Justice - Privacy Protection Authority
The Privacy Protection Authority continues to develop and publish content targeting parents of children and youth, and pedagogical and teaching staff. The Authority also continues to initiate and conduct special collaborations and to deliver public lectures in programs run by the Ministry of Education and the Child Online Protection Bureau.
The Authority intends to publish a document of recommendations on strengthening the protection of children's personal information in online services, and is currently compiling a special guide that will focus on the privacy at schools of students in the digital age (it will initially be published for public comment).
You are invited to read the information prepared by the Authority on protecting the privacy of children and youth online: