ODPA launches outreach programme to all Bailiwick schools

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The Office of the Data Protection Authority (ODPA) is embarking on its outreach programme, aiming to raise young people’s awareness of their rights and the possible risks associated with the misuse of personal data.

The ODPA’s Outreach Officer Kirsty Bougourd is available to all Bailiwick schools that wish to take the opportunity for their students to learn more about personal data and how to protect it.

The sessions on offer have been developed following consultation with PSHCE professionals within Guernsey’s Committee for Education, Sport and Culture to ensure they fit with the curriculum and are targeting the most appropriate age group. The sessions are the result of focus groups held over the last 12 months with students in different years and schools and have been modified to best fit timetables and to engage the young people in a fun but informative way.

Each session is made up of activities designed to help children uncover different aspects of data protection through the process of directed discovery and discussion. The aim is to help them to understand their rights and responsibilities as well as how to protect themselves and their personal data.

Children are powerful communicators and will hopefully share these messages with any adults and other young people in their lives. It’s hoped that by elevating discussions around personal data and how to safeguard its use, more people will understand data protection’s true purpose and value.

The programme forms part of the Authority’s commitment and statutory obligation to “promote public awareness of risks, rules, safeguards and rights in relation to processing, especially in relation to children”. But as the Bailiwick’s Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martins explains, this is about more than fulfilling legal duties, it’s about ethics.

‘This programme is an important pillar of the work we are doing. Ensuring young people have data rights incorporated into their broader education has many benefits. A well-informed young person is less likely to fall victim to the harms that can arise from misuse of their personal data, and is more likely to become a responsible and enlightened adult. When they enter the workforce they will hopefully already have an understanding of what the Law says they must do but also why ethically, looking after personal data is the right thing to do. As well as empowering people though education, we also want to encourage an exploring of the fascinating world of data and how it impacts our personal lives and our economy.’

Outreach Officer Kirsty Bougourd explained the importance of the schools programme.

‘There are so many good reasons for starting this programme and I’m very proud and excited to be part of it. Young people are among the most vulnerable members of our community and deserve the greatest protection. Yet they are often the most prolific sharers of their personal data through online games and activities. Helping them understand how to look after themselves and their data in such a digitally connected world is vital. But I have also tried very hard to show how data isn’t just shared online but throughout our general daily activities. Ultimately, I want them to learn how to be safe but have fun at the same time.’

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture, commented.

‘The safety of our children is paramount and prevention of harm and abuse extends into digital and online environments. We know that the use of social media can impact negatively the wellbeing, mental health and resilience of our young people, where data can be shared easily and widely in one screen swipe and privacy often counts for little. Working with agencies like the Office of the Data Protection Authority is really important because it helps us to raise awareness in schools and amongst the wider community, using their legal voice to emphasise that a child has rights, and how essential it is to manage personal data and privacy even from a young age.

I am delighted to see the ODPA being welcomed into our schools to deliver their Outreach Programme, which supports the work that many have done on the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Award. I hope that the students receiving the talks will help to spread the word not just in school, but also to their parents and families that privacy and data management really matters because it helps to protect and keep our youngsters safe and well.’

The outreach programme will run on a continuous basis and is currently aimed at students in Year 6 and Year 10. Any schools wanting to book an outreach sessions for their students can email communications@odpa.gg or call 01481 742074.

More information on the programme is available at odpa.gg/schools.

NOTES

  • Statutory function
    Under Section 61 of The Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2017 the ODPA has a statutory function to promote a better understanding of data protection within the young people of the Bailiwick. Specifically: “to promote public awareness of risks, rules, safeguards and rights in relation to processing, especially in relation to children”.
  • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
    The ODPA outreach activities also complement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly:
    Article 16 (right to privacy) – “Every child has the right to privacy. The law should protect the child’s private, family and home life, including protecting children from unlawful attacks that harm their reputation.”
    Many Bailiwick schools are actively engaged in achieving the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools award in accordance with this convention.