School head's warning over children's WhatsApp group


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.”

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