Whose risk and wellbeing? Three perspectives of online privacy in relation to children and young people’s wellbeing

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During the course of applied research into the challenges of providing integrated government services to support children and young people (CYP) at risk, a school principal recounted an incident involving an attempted suicide by a pupil who had recently arrived at the school and had a documented history of mental health issues and previous attempts to take his own life; however, this was not communicated to the school in part because of privacy concerns in sharing his case history. Critical information was not shared with staff at his new school that would have drawn attention to the young male’s suicidal tendency. Sometimes, the privacy of CYP is accorded more importance than their overall wellbeing; however, deeper investigation reveals something more complex at play. This article first examines the macro-perspective of efforts by government policy to mitigate breaches of privacy through regulation of online access and the shaping of CYP’s digital practices. Second, it explores how schools and service providers at the meso-level face difficult challenges in sharing information about CYP. Third, this discussion draws on perspectives of privacy derived from CYP themselves at the micro-level in relation to considerations such as the giving and withholding of personal information online, its theft and legacy issues potentially arising from the disclosure of private information online that may impact the individual’s ‘digital footprint’ later in life. Research suggests that a shift from risk to resilience is taking place that entails a potential move from deficit assumptions about youth ‘at-risk’ and ‘as risk’ to a more nuanced understanding of the privacy of CYP shaped by social ecologies of resilience. However, certain challenges persist in the sharing of information at the meso-level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
Number of pages10
JournalMedia International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • children and young people
  • datafication
  • privacy
  • resilience
  • rights to provision and participation
  • risk
  • social ecologies

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