While the global pandemic has seen Australians of all ages turn to the internet to stay better connected, recent research found that 44% of teens have had a negative online experience and three quarters of teens want more online safety information delivered through trusted channels.

In response, Crime Stoppers has worked with education professionals to develop a Cybercrime and the Law teaching pack as the latest addition to a free online teachers’ resource suite of Civics and Citizenship themes.

Specifically targeting Years 7-10, the initiative was first developed and trialled in Western Australia to help make the Australian subject of Civics and Citizenship more engaging. The learning materials are now nationally available and provide flexible content and lesson ideas, resources and assessments, which allow teachers to select lesson ideas in any order to best suit the interest and needs of students.

In discussing the launch of the Cybercrime and the Law module, ACT Region Crime Stoppers said it was important to help younger generations understand what it means to be a digital citizen, how technology can facilitate criminal activity, how to be cyber safe and recognise fake news.

“Just as the internet and other new technologies are opening tremendous possibilities, they also provide opportunities for criminals to commit new crimes and carry out old crimes in more modern ways. Cybercrime continues to grow in Australia and poses a serious threat to individuals, businesses, and governments, so educating students is a positive way to raise awareness of the different types of cybercrime and highlight to them the danger signs to look out for,” Diana Forrester, Chair of both Crime Stoppers Australia and ACT Region Crime Stoppers, said.

“The rise of fake news makes it more important than ever for younger people to develop strategies to recognise the difference between accurate, reliable news and fake news – because fake news can encourage uninformed decisions, create distrust in public institutions, support criminal activity and even directly harm a person’s well-being,” she said.

The latest learning module also promotes safe use of digital devices and explores key issues impacting on teenagers, such as cyberbullying, online abuse, scams and child sexual exploitation.

“We know teenagers want more online safety information and this latest learning module delivers against that need. Teenagers want to understand how to be safe online and they need to know about image-based abuse and the difficulty that comes with removing inappropriate images, posts and other material,” Ms Forrester added.

“The new module also explores the need to balance online time with other activities, to encourage teenagers to spend time away from the screen and enjoy other activities too.”

Existing learning modules that are already part of the suite explore the justice system, crime laws, law enforcement and the role of citizens in relation to crime, including how Crime Stoppers can help. Teachers can access the resource through Scootle, a national digital repository of teacher resources made available by Education Services Australia as well as on the Crime Stoppers Australia website.

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