Absence Line, Online Dangers and Internet Safety
A number of concerns have been raised recently by Gloucestershire County Council and also have been in the press that I wish to share with you
Please be aware that a report has come in of parents receiving automated telephone calls in Gloucester informing them that their daughter/son is absent from school and asking parents to call a premium rate 0845 number. These messages have been received by both parents with children in schools and individuals who do not have school age children. Please do not call any premium rate numbers if contacted by an automated system. These calls do not represent the school.
For informing about absence at High School for Girls please call the absence line on 01452 543335. Press 1 for Years 7-11 and press 3 for the Sixth Form to inform the school if your daughter or son will be absent from school. If a phone call does not come into school then you will be contacted by the attendance officer for the main school - Mrs Booker, or for the Sixth Form - Miss Black.
It has recently been drawn to our attention that there are a number of phone apps that parents need to be aware of that pose danger to young people.
Despite all the work that is done about on-line safety, young people are still being targeted by various individuals. Recently girls have been targeted by adults who are posing as teenagers and who are exploiting young people by sending explicit messages. One teenager at a local school was asked to undress for a person with whom she was communicating through an app and was asked to perform indecent acts.
Also please be aware of the “Blue Whale Challenge” which encourages teenagers to carry out disturbing self-harming tasks, for example tasks such as cutting the shape of a whale into their bodies. Participants are urged to eventually “win” the challenge by committing suicide. It is believed that the game is responsible for hundreds of teenage suicides in Russia.
Other apps that are causing concern are “Yellow” and “Monkey”. “Yellow” has previously been dubbed the “Tinder for kids”, which could be used for grooming children. “Yellow” is available on Apple or Android smartphones and is growing in popularity among school age teens who use it to chat and send pictures to friends and strangers. There is a warning from the NSPCC that this dating app could be used by perverts to groom young people. “Monkey” is used to have fun chats but has similar risks. Please can I ask parents to check their daughter’s phone/tablet carefully. These apps can be hidden behind other apps and can be hard to see at first glance.
Please reiterate to your daughter/son that they need to think very carefully about sharing information with someone they have never met. Please also tell them if someone asks them to do something inappropriate they must report this immediately. Despite all the work done about on-line safety many students succumb to requests. It is important to emphasise to young people that once information about them goes on-line they lose ownership and control of it completely and can never regain it as it tends to go viral.
There is a talk at Ribston Hall High School for parents on Internet Safety on 4th May from 6-7pm. High School for Girls’ parents are welcome to attend.
I hope that parents will find the information useful and will act on it.
With best wishes
Ewa Sawicka, Headteacher