Online shaming occurs at quarter of primary schools: survey


Pupils at a quarter of all Dutch primary schools have experienced online shaming at some time, a survey among 595 teachers and care coordinators has shown.

The survey, carried out by current affairs programme Pointer and education organisation DUO, revealed that naked pictures of children circulated in a quarter of the schools, while one in four pupils in groups seven and eight have been confronted with inappropriate photos and videos via apps such as TikTok, Whatsapp or Instagram.

Online shaming is more prevalent in secondary education where nine in 10 care coordinators who deal with the victims said the practice happens in their schools.

Most teachers and care coordinators said they are worried about the pictures of naked children that are being shared. ‘These were photos made in the showers after gym class which were passed round’, one teacher at a Rotterdam primary school said.

According to Pointer journalist Leontien Aarnoudse, schools indicated that online shaming happens once a year, or less. ‘It’s not a daily occurrence ,’ she told broadcaster NOS, ‘but teachers have said they are worried because this is a form of bullying and we all know where that can lead.’

Media expert Jacqueline Kleijer told the broadcaster that parents are often unaware of what is happening. ‘Children explore, it’s normal. But the children who are taking a peak in a changing room now have a mobile. It’s important to talk to them about boundaries.’

Age limits

Kleijer, who teaches classes about online shaming, said she had noticed that many primary school children access apps they are too young for, TikTok in particular, which has an age requirement of 13.

She said the classes help but that sex education and respectful interaction must be part of the curriculum to make a difference.

Outgoing education minister Arie Slob said a legal framework for making media savviness compulsory both in primary and secondary schools must be realised by the next cabinet.

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