Starting at the next school year, all teaching students will train to deal with children’s vulnerability resulting from cyberbullying, as part of a joint initiative of Israel Internet Association and Dr. Michal Dolev-Cohen of Oranim Academic College, supported by MK Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton, Chairperson of the Special Committee for the Rights of the Child. The training will provide educational tools designed to encourage respectful behavior on social media. Among other things, future teachers will learn how to manage WhatsApp groups in the classroom and how to identify online distress.
All teaching students in Israel will be required to participate in the course, acquiring practical knowledge of tools and practices to identify and respond to cyberbullying. The 6-hour-course will be mandatory, regardless of age-class or the students’ academic fields. The academy is finalizing drafting the content of the course, and completing it will be a condition for teacher accreditation beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year.
The initiative is promoted by Netica (formerly “Internet Safe Center”) at ISOC-IL, and Dr. Michal Dolev-Cohen, Director of the Center for Learning and Research on Vulnerability in Cyberspace at Oranim Academic College.
Orna Heilinger, Netica’s leader:
“One of the most effective ways to deal with cyberbullying is with a swift, practical response. As the responsible adults and agents of change closest to the children in school, teachers are enormously critical. Teachers today must be equipped with tools and knowledge that will enable them to identify cyberbullying incidents while being attentive and responsive to both the injured and injuring child alike. The proper response in such cases can transform the social atmosphere in the classroom and even save lives.”
MK Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), Chairperson of the Special Committee for the Rights of the Child, who is involved in the matter and held several discussions on the subject, has approached the MOFET Institute and the Council for Higher Education (CHE) requesting the approval of the course.
MK Shasha-Biton has noted, that “In addition to encouraging academic achievements and excellence, the education system must also address the issues and social aspects that affect the children. Therefore, teachers must have the necessary and adequate tools to cope with things that happen in cyberspace as it unequivocally projects on the children’s behavior in school. An emotionally distressed or lonely child has no availability for achieving academic excellence.”
Dr. Michal Dolev-Cohen:
“The internet enables us to offer interactive and experiential learning, but it also exposes our children to negative aspects, such as cyberbullying and other risk behaviors, which require adult guidance; in the school, these are the teachers, who handle online boycotts, harassment, distribution of offensive content, exposure to inappropriate content, and violation of privacy among students. The course will provide teachers with the practical tools necessary to handle these situations and similar daily struggles. The immediate supportive response of both MK Shasha-Biton and the CHE attests to the importance of the subject.”
Orna Heilinger, Netica’s leader:
“This is the beginning of the journey, and we call on schools of social work and psychology and psychiatry faculties to join in and take part in this process.”