While many parents and carers will be reassured that their children feel comfortable turning to them, the rise in modern technologies means the context in which this sage advice is received by today’s youth is often worlds apart from the era their knowledgeable elder came of age in.
Only a generation ago, many young people only learned about the “birds and the bees” as an abstract concept when they reached high school, but alarmingly nowadays children can be exposed to sexualised content online, and in some cases as young as 10 years.
Similarly, not all that long ago, bullying was often confined to the school playground or local park during daylight hours. Yet, in 2023, this anti-social behaviour often extends well into the cover of the night in harmful exchanges over social media platforms that many parents or carers have never even heard of.
It’s not to say these are every young person’s experience, but being informed about online safety can help protect children from harm online.
Recognising the important role that parents and carers play as the first and most important educators in their child’s life, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has secured SchoolTV for each of its 58 school communities. SchoolTV is a webbased platform with an extensive range of wellbeing resources geared towards helping families co-navigate modern day challenges.
Importantly, it complements initiatives already underway in schools across the Diocese, particularly the Catholic Schools Office’s Student Wellbeing and Pastoral Care Policy and the “Wellbeing Together” Student Learning and Wellbeing Framework.
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Chief Executive Officer, Sean Scanlon, is a father of two children who attend the only high school in the Diocese that already hosted SchoolTV prior to the Diocesan-wide rollout. For the past few years, St Pius X High School, Adamstown has promoted the evidenced-based information and practical strategies within the platform to build parent, carer, and educator knowledge and confidence across a range of mental health and wellbeing topics.
Having seen the platform in action, Mr Scanlon was well placed to support the Catholic Schools Office’s desire to ensure all Diocesan school communities benefitted from the resource.
“SchoolTV provides our schools with an opportunity to further strengthen the school-family partnership through regular communication and support with the common goal of better wellbeing for all students,” Mr Scanlon said.
The Diocesan Federation of Parents & Friends Association’s President, Bev Bailey, said many parents and carers often seek advice on a range of topics that SchoolTV covers including cyber safety, mental health, and positive parenting.
Ms Bailey believes SchoolTV will be a valuable resource and commended the Catholic Schools Office for making it available to all schools. She said it was a positive step in ensuring everyone had the same opportunities to receive relevant information from credible resources, regardless of where they live, their education level and socioeconomic status.
“Parenting is full of surprises, and you never know when you might be in a position where you want access to professional guidance to help navigate a challenging time in your child’s life,” Ms Bailey said.
“We all hope that when our child comes to us for help, we will be able to give them relevant and timely advice. So, one of the many benefits of SchoolTV is that you can watch it pre-emptively or as the need arises, from the privacy and convenience of your own home, either by yourself or, as a family.
“Knowing that the staff at my child’s school will also be familiar with the research available on SchoolTV, means that we’ll all be able to speak the same language and partner together more effectively in supporting our children’s learning, safety, and wellbeing.”