Head’s warn­ing over chil­dren’s What­sApp group

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LIANNE KOLIRIN

PAR­ENTS HAVE been warned about “wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate” mes­sages that may have been dis­trib­uted to their chil­dren on so­cial me­dia.

Moth­ers and fa­thers at sev­eral Jewish pri­mary schools were alerted to “chill­ing” images and mes­sages that were posted on a large What­sApp group aimed at Year 6 chil­dren moving on to Jewish sec­ondary schools.

The is­sue was raised by Alexis Gaf­fin, head teacher of Im­manuel Col­lege Prepara­tory School in Bushey, Hert­ford­shire. She learned of the group, which has hun­dreds of mem­bers, from pupils at her school. Af­ter some in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mrs Gaf­fin in­formed par­ents of her Year 6 co­hort, be­fore send­ing a warn­ing to head teach­ers of other Jewish and non-Jewish pri­maries in north Lon­don.

The mes­sage, which was sub­se­quently for­warded to par­ents at those schools, read: “The chil­dren in our Year 6 have told us that they are be­ing in­vited to join the group re­peat­edly. I have alerted all our par­ents and one re­ported to me that hav­ing looked through the mes­sages she found that they ‘were wholly in­ap­pro­pri­ate chain mes­sages and a pic­ture of a per­son hang­ing them­selves with a chill­ing mes­sage at­tached’. “Other par­ents have re­ported that the lan­guage be­ing used is in­ap­pro­pri­ate and ex­pressed their con­cerns, as I have, that they do not know all the people in the group.”

While it is un­clear who started the group, Mrs Gaf­fin be­lieves it is aimed at 10 and 11-year-olds “trans­fer­ring to Year 7 in JCoss, JFS, Yavneh and Im­manuel”. While there is no sug­ges­tion that any­one other than chil­dren are in­volved, Mrs Gaf­fin still urged cau­tion. “Many par­ents didn’t know the le­gal age for What­sApp is 16,” she said. “Par­ents should put bound­aries in place for their chil­dren.”

Alexis Gaf­fin

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