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Talk on Personal Safety from Old Girl

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Christine Morrison (née Eccles, Class of 1977) returned to Bolton School to talk to Girls’ Division students in Year 12 about personal safety and stalking. She impressed upon the year group that anyone can be stalked and anyone can be a stalker, but also that one in five women are stalked. She explained a little more about stalking behaviour, which she said is essentially ‘unwanted conduct’ and could be physical or online or both.

She also said that most stalking cases start very small, but encouraged the girls not to ignore something until it becomes a nightmare. Instead, she said they should speak to someone, whether that is a teacher, parent or the police. Though she did share some more extreme and tragic stalking cases, which ended in murder, she also went into some of the other impacts stalking can have, including depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Moving on to the social media aspect, Christine warned the girls to be careful of what they put out on sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and so on. She described how photos and updates can be used against people, and how blocking someone might not always be effective. She said that recruiters will search for the social media profiles of the individuals they are looking at hiring, and what they find there might impact their decision.

Chrstine also advised them to be very careful of the terms and conditions, and be aware that these can change frequently. She told the story of an individual she met while running a training course on personal safety who said that his Facebook profile was completely private, but when she looked him up she was able to discover a huge amount of detail about his life. She reminded her audience that if a website or app is free, the data it collects on its users is the commodity it is selling.

Finally, to end her talk, Christine recommended three documentary films currently available on Netflix related to her talk: Social Dilemma, The Great Hack and a documentary about Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta.

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