VIDEO: ‘Virtual justice’ project helps Notts teens in digital age

Secondary school pupils took part in school workshops and mock trials based on the perils of cybercrime at the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham.

Secondary school pupils took part in school workshops and mock trials based on the perils of cybercrime at the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham.

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With news of social media trolls and internet hacking, today’s teenagers are vulnerable targets for all sorts of cybercrime.

The Virtual Justice Project is a targeted early intervention and awareness raising programme for 12 and 13 year olds in Nottinghamshire to prevent them becoming victims or involved in cybercrime and other cyber-related issues.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee is funding £12,500 to enable the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law (NCCL) to benefit around 1,000 pupils at Joseph Whitaker School, in Rainworth, the West Bridgford School, and their feeder primary schools on the programme.

The secondary school pupils are taking part in school workshops and gripping mock trials based on the perils of cybercrime at the Galleries of Justice Museum, in High Pavement, during March. The training in March is particularly timely for raising awareness of these issues, with National CSE Awareness Day taking place on March 18.

The Virtual Justice project is based on the NCCL’s and Nottinghamshire County Council’s ‘I-Pledge to Keep On Track’ Youth Crime Prevention Programme to give cyber safety advice to primary school pupils, which is recognised nationally as an educational model of best practice.

Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, Committee Chairman for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Pupils moving from a primary school to a secondary school setting, and their peers, are likely to connect with technology even more through mobile phones and the internet, for example.

“It is vital to prepare children during this transitional period where they could be more vulnerable to cybercrime. Our I-Pledge campaign has been extremely successful supporting primary school leavers, and the aim of the Virtual Justice Project is to give extra support and advice to 12 and 13 year olds in our secondary schools.”

During the school outreach workshop sessions, pupils will learn about issues in cyber-bullying, hate crime, child sexual exploitation and sexting. Students will debate cybercrime and e-safety and come up with strategies to minimise the risks.

Pupils will then perform a cyber-bullying trial in the Galleries of Justice Museum’s Youth Court – based on real-life examples of seeking cybercrime justice. They will decide on a suitable sentence based on the defendant’s actions and the implications on the wider community; highlighting the consequences and effects of cybercrime and cyber-related issues. Pupils will also start to work on designing an e-safety leaflet.

Pupils will have the opportunity to share their learning at an end of project assembly at their schools. Pupils will be encouraged to invite their parents to attend the assembly to enable wider learning and understanding about cybercrime and e-safety. Through their e-safety leaflet pupils will also be encouraged to share their learning with final year pupils from feeder primary schools during their transition programme.