Cell C’s cyber bullying offensive reaches high schools

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Juliet Mhango, Cell C human capital and transformation officer.
Juliet Mhango, Cell C human capital and transformation officer.

Cell C has introduced phase two of its cyber safety pilot programme, run in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and sports-education organisation Active Education Foundation.

Last year, the telco partnered with over 50 local primary schools as part of phase one of the project. The second phase is targeted at high schools, and was introduced this morning at Amberfield College in Centurion.

It aims to educate high school learners about responsible and safe mobile usage, cyber safety and cyber bullying. It also encourages responsible use of social media platforms, and illustrates the dangers and pain associated with cyber bullying.

As part of phase two, Cell C aims to partner with 80 high schools, with plans for a national rollout.

Active Education has a partnership in place with the Department of Basic Education and has been piloting a cyber safety programme among local schools.

Speaking at the event this morning, Juliet Mhango, Cell C human capital and transformation officer, said the initiative is the telco’s flagship project and falls in line with its socio-economic development strategy.

“Cyber bullying can – and often does – have a terrible impact on those affected, with victims becoming withdrawn, depressed, angry and frightened. Cell C is proud to partner with Active Education and the DBE on this initiative, which we hope will educate parents, teachers and children about how to stay safe online, whatever device they use,” noted Mhango.

The programme is implemented in the form of industrial theatre which incorporates learner and parent/educator workshops. Active Education will also train an activation team that will target 20 schools in KwaZulu-Natal, 10 schools in Limpopo and 25 schools in Western Cape.

In future, Cell C will introduce a mobile-accessible online platform to educate learners throughout the country about cyber bullying, added Mhango.

According to Microsoft's 2019 Digital Civility Index, South African millennials and teenagers, particularly teenage girls, are most affected by online risks, such as receiving offensive or obscene content, Internet hoaxes and fake news, and bullying and offensive name-calling.

The study ranked SA at 21 out of 22 countries surveyed for exposure to online risks.

“After the success and learnings of cyber safety pilot one, our partnership with Cell C has grown from strength to strength. This initiative shows the consequences of cyber bullying and how to identify and assist when cyber bullying is occurring, thus changing lives,” noted Active Education’s Bruce Smuts.

“Through Cell C’s support of Active Education and the DBE, we will reach over 40 000 learners with this positive initiative.”

Karabo Mbaba, a pupil at Amberfield College, told ITWeb that after participating in two workshops, she has already learnt a lot about cyber safety. “I’ve learnt about how to be vigilant online and on social media platforms. There are many things which we take for granted as youth; for instance, exposing our contact details and addresses, sharing information about our location and simple things like chatting to a stranger online can be dangerous. We were also taught about confiding in a trusted adult, or how to report a bullying incident.”

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