Australian national 13 Project helping kids stay safe online

Library associations across Australia have announced the 13 Project, to strengthen the participation of school library staff in schools’ efforts to help keep their students safer online.

Every parent fears their child being bullied, and cyber-bullying has added an extra layer to the threat. The 13 Project recognizes the special role of school libraries as a place where students often access online resources, and the opportunity library staff have to promote cyber-safety information.  The 13 Project complements other school initiatives to deal with cyber-safety by positioning school library staff as having an important role in keeping students safe online.

In November last year, School Education Minister Peter Garrett said, ‘A 2009 Edith Cowan University report on covert bullying gave us a staggering statistic: one in six students are bullied weekly. A quarter of students between Year 4 and Year 9 reported being bullied at least once over the few weeks the research was undertaken. One in five students has experienced some form of cyber-bullying. This means every family either has a child, or knows one, who is being bullied at school … No child should have to go through this.’

Through the 13 Project, school library teams will have access to web-based resources and information fact sheets to guide students and parents, and industry partner Softlink will be conducting research into school libraries and cyber-safety as part of its annual Australian School Library Survey.

13 Project partners include The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the  Australian School Library Association (ASLA). These are the only two library associations able to  represent school library interests at national level and by working in partnership are showing us the way forward in representing the profession. These two partners are joined by Softlink, a company which has been exclusively dedicated to the development and support of advanced integrated knowledge, content and library management solutions for school libraries for some 30 years. (Softlink is known for their support of school libraries through their annual survey and through their recent generous sponsorship of the discussion list for Australian Teacher Librarians at OZTL_NET).

The library associations are partnering with the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy for National Cybersafety Awareness Week, to promote being safe online through displays, events and activities right across the country. The campaign will roll out over 2013, with the main launch event taking place around National Cybersafety Awareness Week, starting on 20 May, 2013.

One activity that school libraries can be involved in is National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on 15 March http://www.bullyingnoway.gov.au/national-day/ Australian education authorities support this national day through the Safe and Supportive School Communities Project.

So why the name 13 Project?  The initiative takes its name from the year, 2013, the recommended minimum age for interaction with social media (Facebook), 13, and the launch date Friday 1 March 2013 (1/3/13).

I’m delighted to learn about this new initiative.  The work of our national library associations, ALIA and ASLA, is vital to the futures of our school libraries. It is the role of these two organizations to foster and promote the future of school libraries.

No state, regional or lobby group should ever work in isolation from these two significant associations. School libraries and teacher librarians need our national associations now more than ever. 

Image:Girls sharing cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by jasonstaten

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