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National conference for people working to keep vulnerable young people safe online

Munch Poke Ping, a Nominet Trust funded project which has actively engaged excluded and hard to reach young people in making films to ultimately explore the use and risks of social  media within this cohort, will present its’ main findings at its’ inaugural conference on the 19th November in London.

The event is aimed at educationalists, psychologists, policy makers and staff working within alternative education institutions, including Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).   By bringing together the key findings of a project which has involved students and staff from eight PRUs, the conference will provide a platform for professionals within alternative and mainstream education to discuss e-safety in relation to vulnerable young people as well as help professionals understand the new risks such as online impersonation (what some of the young people call ‘Fraping’), cyberbullying and online games rage.

Coming as it does on the first day of the national ‘Anti-Bullying’ week, this highly participative conference is unique in that it is centred around the voices of the children. The event starts with the young people who were involved in the project sharing their powerful insights illustrated in the 8 films which they devised, acted and helped produce. The event will also include a mixture of presentations, interviews and panel discussions ranging from helping young people stay healthy online, to methods professionals can use to embrace social media in the classroom.  

Key contributors include:

  • Seamus Oates, Executive Head Teacher, Hammersmith and Fulham PRUs:       ‘Winning the Unwinnable War’ - How PRUs can move from blocking, banning and restricting social media to trusting, respecting and learning from students.
  • Dr Richard Graham, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and clinical Director of the Adolescent Department at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation: How to help young people stay healthy online, looking at issues of addiction, sleep and empathy.
  • Bill Thompson, independent journalist and regular commentator on the BBC: Interviewed by young people on his predictions for the future of the internet and how schools can prepare for its integration into every part of our lives.
  • Katie Bacon, Director of Online Youth Outreach:  How schools in Liverpool are using Blackberry phones to support parents of excluded children as well as exploring how teachers can help young people use the Blackberry BBM platform responsibly.

Stephen Carrick Davies the author of the Munch Poke Ping report and producer of the film-making project says:

“After over a decade of E-safety work in UK schools, the evidence suggests that most young people, who are supported and informed, know the key e-safety issues and are able to stay safe online.  However, greater effort needs to be given to those who are vulnerable offline and often excluded from the debate.

“By making short films with the students not in mainstream schools we wanted to explore the risks that they encounter, illustrate how the technology can amplify vulnerability, but also positively showcase the skilled ways that many of these young people have learnt to cope with risks and- in the absence of supportive adults in their lives – how they care for each other. The project also illustrates the urgent need for greater support and training for staff so that that vulnerable young people are not further excluded from positive digital engagement and learning.

“This collaborative learning conference will review these  issues within the  wider context of children’s rights, digital health and technological advances and suggest positive steps practitioners can take.“

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust said: “Nominet Trust is delighted to support the Munch Poke Ping research and conference. With digital technology now a given for young people, it is critical that professionals are up-to-date with the latest developments in how to use technology to enable new approaches to teaching and learning. Drawing on new research exploring how social media and mobile phone technology affects young people’s relationships, behaviours and identity, this conference offers helpful insights and practical guidance for educationalists.”

A student interviewed as part of the MPP project said: “When you are being digitally bullied, it’s like everyone’s just talking about you behind your back, and you don’t know who it is and you don’t know what’s going on...Schools should be more serious about this subject,  sometimes teachers think, ah it’s just a mobile phone but it’s more serious than that....”   

  • What: Punch Poke Ping’s inaugural conference 
  • Where: Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
  • When: Monday 19 November                          
  • Interview opportunity: Stephen Carrick Davies and speakers from the conference will be available on the 19th November from 1pm – 2pm the Rich Mix conference venue

To find out more about the event, to view the full programme and to book tickets and access the MPP report and films made by the young people please visit www.munchpokeping.com