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Proposal To Introduce Digital Civics And Cyber Security Lessons In Schools in Himachal Pradesh

Very soon children in schools of Himachal Pradesh could be learning about digital civics and cyber security as part of their course curriculum, in a proposal aimed at better preparing them for dealing with rising threats of the online world.

The proposal for this has been sent to the Education Department of the Hill State by the Himachal Pradesh Police, according to reports.

Taking serious note of the worsening situation, the Himachal Pradesh police department wrote to the State Government recently about including chapters on cyber safety and digital civics in school curriculum in order to spread awareness on cybercrimes and enable younger generations to stay safe in the digital world.

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“Nowadays, school-going children start using computers and mobile phones from an early age and it has become essential to sensitize them about cybercrimes,” stated the letter addressed to the principal secretary (education) of the Himachal Pradesh government.

“Unlike conventional crime, cybercrime has no boundaries and is characterized by fast-paced technological changes,” the letter further mentioned.

The police said their teams are holding awareness drives regularly in schools and colleges to appraise the students about cyber crimes. However, the police noted that combating cybercrime is still challenging and campaigns are essential as “precaution is better than cure”.

Rise In Complaints, Common Cases

Police officials noted that the rise in cyber crimes and threats has increased manifold. The vulnerabilities of the people who are not adequately aware or are ill-equipped to deal with the threats are only set to rise in times to come, the officials believe.

Citing example of frauds and cheating cases in the wake of increased mobile and digital payments, the state’s police highlighted that it lodged 923 cyber offence complaints in 2017 but that number rose to 6,207 in 2021.

Common cybercrimes include phishing scams, identity theft, online harassment, cyber-stalking, invasion of privacy, debit/credit card fraud, ATM fraud and pornography and a significant rise has been witnessed in cybercrime against women and children, the police said.

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Notably, 10 to 15% of the cyber complaints involve children directly or indirectly and the number goes to over 30% in complaints pertaining to social media, according to Superintendent of Police (cybercrime) Rohit Malpani.

What The School Course May Include

The proposal for introducing cyber security and digital civics lessons in schools cites examples of the initiatives taken by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate for Secondary Education (ICSE).

For example, the CBSE had introduced webinars for students and teachers. What’s more significant is that these webinars offered students the choice to take the lessons on cyber awareness in the language of their choice like English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Assamese, Odiya, Gujarati, Malayalam and Marathi.

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The police communiqué to the education department also made references to literature developed by the CBSE, the ICSE, the Reserve Bank of India, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs with names of some books.

These books are on cyber safety manual for children, cyber safety booklet for children, a booklet on modus operandi of financial fraudsters, a handbook for adolescents/students on cyber safety and children and cyber safety.

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