The headteacher of Burscough Priory, Catherine Davies, has warned of the dangers surrounding technology following several incidents at the school, involving pupils sending intimate pictures to each other.
Mrs Davies contacted the Advertiser after becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of pupils while using their mobile devices. She suggested that the issue was one that all schools in West Lancashire were facing and one that needed to be tackled head-on.
Mrs Davies said: “This is an issue that I believe we need to be talking about more, pupils and parents are seemingly naive about the dangers of sending these kind of photos.
“I don’t think parents know what their children are getting up to on their phones and I believe they should be taking a more active interest in their child’s online activity.
“People need to be reminded that taking these images is a criminal offence and the consequences can be absolutely awful for young people.
“I can’t comment on individual cases but we have certainly encountered this problem at Burscough Priory and I know other schools in the area have also experienced problems.
“We’re increasingly seeing pupils coming into school unable to function and concentrate properly because they are staying up into the early hours of the morning, taking these kinds of photos and chatting to people online.
“Parents can no longer plead innocence to the dangers of mobile technology, if they give a child a phone they are allowing them access 24 hours a day and they need to be aware of what their child is doing on their device.”
To tackle the issue in school Burscough Priory has introduced e-safety ambassadors, who are students that champion safe online practice.
Students have shared their concerns about how even the innocent use of mobile phones can so easily go wrong.
One of the students at the school said: “Bullying is rare but when it does happen they have access to you 24 hours a day. It would feel really horrible as you would feel they can get at you at any time and there is nowhere to hide, even in your own bedroom.
People should use phones responsibly and don't do anything you wouldn't want your family to see.
“Snapchat is an app which lets you to send pictures to your friends that dissolve after a few seconds and disappear. But there is a way to screenshot the images and then send them widely around.
“We all have friends across many other schools in West Lancashire that use this app.
“I know of incidents that have happened where our friends in other schools have sent private pictures to friends but they got about when shared outside the friendship group – it’s scary.”