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Corporate Responsibility in Action

Empowering Communities Worldwide Through Safer Online Practices

Created: 06 Nov 2013
Cecily Joseph's picture
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Over the past few weeks, in honor of October's National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’ve highlighted Symantec's cybersecurity and online safety initiatives designed to achieve our mission of protecting and managing information so everyone is free to focus on achieving their goals. While our products and know-how are invaluable tools in the effort to protect and educate our communities, we could not achieve this without our international partners. These partners located across the globe provide the vital programs, infrastructure and local know-how necessary to tackle our most pressing issues.

Today I am happy to highlight our progress with some of our global partners in online safety and cyber security education:

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS): Our youth are one of the most vulnerable groups online. In 2012, Symantec partnered with WAGGGS to develop and deliver Surf Smart, an education resource which provides skills and tools for young people to identify online risks and safeguards, understand online ethics and recognize the wider impact of their own actions and other people’s actions online. The program was piloted in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom with a special focus on online safety issues affecting young girls and women. Our success with WAGGGS includes:

  • More than 1,950 merit badges were awarded for completion of the program during its five-month introduction.
  • More than 80 percent of participating group leaders rated the curriculum “very useful” or “useful,” and more than 75 percent indicated it was “very fun” or “fun.”
  • Within five months in France, Germany and the UK, the project reached approximately 1,400 girls and more than 115 curriculum educators which included Symantec employee volunteers.

In 2013, through a grant from Symantec, WAGGGS will expand delivery of Surf Smart to twelve African countries where there are a total of 420,000 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and over 13,300 leaders.

In these countries, girls and young women aged 10 to 25 will learn about Internet safety through a series of workshops delivered by volunteer peer educators. Users will participate in Surf Smart activities based on ‘learning by doing’ which will enable them to identify online risks, protect themselves and seek help appropriately when needed.

Common Sense Media: In 2013, Symantec created a partnership with Common Sense Media, Cyber Safe Kids and the Victoria Department of Education to support a pilot digital citizenship initiative, Growing Up Digital. The program provides ongoing, accessible resources to Australian schools, K-12 lesson plans, interactive modules for students and parents and training for teachers.

Additionally, in 2012 Symantec issued a $100,000 grant to develop, pilot, and evaluate Digital Passport™ through Common Sense Media. Digital Passport is a free, web-based interactive learning tool that helps educators prepare their students to use online and mobile technologies independently. Digital Passport addresses the key issues that kids face online such as safety and security, cyberbullying, privacy, responsible cell phone use, and more.

The Beta Version of the Digital Passport™ was piloted in six regions across the United States and since its launch has been very successful:

  • 1,500 students have tested the product, demonstrating through the embedded assessment that they are learning digital citizenship knowledge and skills;
  • Over 85 percent of the students who participated in the pilot of the Digital Passport received badges for all six learning modules;
  • Since the digital passport launch in March 2012 more than 180,00 student accounts have been created by 3rd through 5th grade educators, and:
  • Of these 180,000 student accounts, 91,435 students have initiated the Digital Passport, but have not yet completed it, representing more than 50 percent of the total registered users;
  • 13,563 (14 percent) of the total students who have initiated the Digital Passport have received badges for all six modules.

Friends: As a result of Symantec’s support over the past years, Friends has been able to hire a full-time online safety spokesperson who has been influential in the local media about cyberbullying. Symantec also contributes cybercrime research and content to Friends to help make more resources about cybercrime available to the public.

One Global Economy: Supported by Symantec, the India Digital Inclusion Program from One Global Economy (OGE) and Pratham InfoTech Foundation offers solutions via a network of Community Information and Technology Centers complemented with online media and capacity-building training programs, which aim to offer skills, information, and opportunities that improve a community’s prospects for social and economic development.

With Symantec’s support, One Global Economy (OGE) has launched Beehives and Community Connectors in underserved communities in Pune and Mumbai, India. Beehives offer localized web portals with information on entrepreneurism, health, employment, financial literacy, digital literacy and basic yet necessary information for individual and community development. Community Connectors is a digital literacy training program that offers training to adolescents on information technology, leadership, business planning, and community engagement skills:

  • Since program inception, more than 3,500 individuals have been served.
  • Additionally, the Community Connectors program in Toluca, Mexico will build the capacity of University student leaders in teaching soft skills and basic ICT skills, as well as train local high school students in leadership, entrepreneurship and technology.

It's long-lasting, high-impact partnerships like these that will continue to allow us to move the needle on these issues.

Cecily Joseph is Symantec's Vice President, Corporate Responsibility.