© Jürg Christandl


At school with internet cops

“My Facebook account has been hacked and somebody used my name to publish sexually explicit content”, thirteen year old Manuela reports to the two police officers who visited the school last Tuesday. They are not here to investigate but to inform students about the dangers of the internet. The project is called, “Click & Check”.

Manuela is not the only student in class 3b at the “Kooperative Mittelschule Knöllgasse” whose account has been misused by friends. Brankica, a 14 year old school mate also complains that lewd messages have been sent to boys in her name. “That is not a comfortable feeling”, the young girl says.

Facebook account deactivated
Nurullah, another student who is good in programming, also had to deactivate his account because a friend exchanged messages with other children in his name. 14 year old Matthias’ account has been renamed as an expletive by his best friend. “The first thing that comes into your mind is that you don’t want to use the internet any more”, says Matthias. He experienced how it feels to be pilloried via Facebook.

When later, a teacher was insulted by her students via Facebook, the principal had had enough. She called the “Internet cops”. They wear plain clothes and talk to students in a normal and friendly way. Their five-hour-lecture contains films ranging from cyber-mobbing to violent computer games. After having watched the films, students and police officers discuss the topics.

Films and conversation
One film shows a boy who hits his mother after having played computer games for weeks. “Your own perception of violence can be lowered through such games”, Andreas Pemmer, one of 130 preventive police officers of Vienna police says. “That does not necessarily mean that you become a person running amok after playing video games if you have a normal life”, the policeman adds. Some of the students have been confronted with such games before.

The second police officer mainly listens. She is currently being trained to become a preventive officer. Besides her patrol duty she will invest 30 percent of her work time in prevention at schools. In the five day seminar only two days are dedicated to the internet. This sounds quite short and as with the lecturers, everything depends on the commitment of the officer as to how well one is able to communicate topics.

„Pass passwords on to friends“
“Juveniles often share their password with friends or use words that can be easily guessed by others”, says Pemmer about the Facebook-cases. “It is essential to induct a person of trust into the case”, says the official. Most of the juveniles have handled the situation in an instinctively correct manner, so that a major part of the cases could have been solved.

“I have tightened the settings of my profile and am better protected now“, says Manuela. Matthias additionally uses a firewall which is compatible with Facebook. He has also not been frightened off by this occurrence and still uses the internet “to inform himself about interesting things”. He considers the visitation of the police officers to his class as a good idea. “We are learning how to use the internet correctly”, says the fourteen-year-old student.


What is “Click & Check“?
The initiative was started in Upper Austria a few years ago. Due to its great success it was also started in Vienna together with the “Kuratorium Sichers Österreich KSÖ”, the Vienna Police and the regional education office (Stadtschulrat).

Specially trained officers can be requested via a hotline (0800/216346) by students of 6th and 7th grades, Christian Kunstmann (general secretary of KSÖ) explains to futurezone.
Films and conversation