Premier League star backs national campaign for digital safety in schools

Former Premier League footballer Anton Ferdinand has gone back to his roots to back a national campaign to have online digital safety taught in every English school, writes Toby Porter.

The former West Ham and QPR star, who himself has been the victim of trolling and online abuse, is the first professional footballer to back online safety charity eAWARE’s drive to make classroom computers safe.

He did so by sponsoring his former primary school as well as his son’s primary school, Camelot Primary School in Peckham, which as a result of his donation will receive online safety education for a year – bringing the conversation into the classroom and encouraging discussion around both the positives and negatives of the online world.

The campaign from eAWARE comes days after the NSPCC launched its Wild West Web campaign, which also calls on the Government to regulate social networks and make the internet safer for children.

He said: “Having been on the receiving end of months of online abuse, I know that even for someone who is thick skinned and in the public eye just how incredibly difficult it is to take.

“As a father-of-two I wanted to play a part in helping to better protect our future generations from the kind of vile abuse I experienced.

This is why I’m supporting eAWARE’s campaign and calling on the government to change the national curriculum to better reflect our digital age.”

Joe Brewer, Content and Communications Manager for eAWARE, said: “The importance of teaching digital safety in the classroom has never been more apparent.

“Over just the past few weeks both the NSPCC and the NCA have released shocking statistics revealing how at risk young people can be when using the internet.

While initiatives such as the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign and the Government’s announcement of a national unit specialising in providing local safeguarding agencies with expertise, advice and practical support to help stop child sexual exploitation are fantastic, education also plays a fundamental part in keeping young people safe online.

“We must see a shift in the national curriculum to include online safety as a core subject, helping ensure all children are given the skills they need to be safe online.

“Whilst the Government’s revised guidance contained within Keeping Children Safe In Education has made progress, it falls woefully short of what is required.

For this reason we are calling on more footballers like Anton to support our campaign of helping one million schoolchildren have access to our online safety resources by 2020.”

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