Less than half of secondary pupils would confide in a teacher if they felt “concerned” about something that had happened to them online, according to new research.
In a survey on digital safety, just four in 10 said they would feel “comfortable speaking to a teacher, or other member of staff at school” if they were caught up in an online incident.
Another 30 per cent of pupils said they would not speak to school staff, with a further 29.6 per cent saying they didn’t know what they would do in that situation, according to a report by educational initiative Digital Schoolhouse.
The survey comes amid concern that the Department for Education's current guidance on digital issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety is outdated.
Ofsted says schools should "protect and educate pupils and staff in their use of technology and have the appropriate mechanisms to intervene and support any incident where appropriate".
But the survey, in which 2,000 12- and 13-year-olds across the country were contacted, also shows that 30 per cent of students thought their classroom e-safety education “has little to no relevance to their use of technology outside school”. In fact, only 23 per cent of pupils labelled their online education as “completely relevant”.
Pupils 'should be able to raise online safety issues'
The survey report says: “We want schools to be a safe haven, somewhere where students can find someone to talk to. We want them to be able to raise e-safety issues at school, where appropriate action can be taken.”
Most of those surveyed indicated that their e-safety education focused on cyber-bullying and social media and that it was largely repetitive.
Digital Schoolhouse director Shahneila Saeed said the UK “still has a lot of work to do when it comes to e-safety”.
She added: “The survey has helped us to identify the areas we need to work on and has raised questions about the need for both a greater collaboration with parents and a national conversation about what else we can do ensure young people remain safe online.”
In July, education secretary Damian Hinds said he wanted children to be taught about the dangers of social media from the age of 4 to help them deal with the "challenges of the modern world".
He launched a consultation in the summer on new guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education at school, which would take into account rules for social media.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hinds said: "Many of today's problems didn't exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education, 18 years ago.
"It's high time we updated these subjects, which are so important in helping young people to become happy, well-rounded and better able to deal with the challenges of the modern world."
Digital Schoolhouse is a non-profit programme, backed by computer games brand PlayStation, which helps pupils to develop computer skills.