Circle of 6
Safety and security through your smartphone
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To explore our understanding of personal safety (SEAL theme: Social Skills).
Preparation and materials
- You will need any kind of circular object, such as a hoop, disc or plate.
- I love the shape of a circle. It’s an unbroken, smooth line that continues forever. (Trace the outline of the circular object several times.) There’s no start and no end, no sharp corners. It also marks a clear boundary. You know what’s inside the circle (point) and what’s outside (point). It’s the most perfect geometrical shape.
- A circle is also a very good metaphor for friendship. We talk of our ‘circle of friends’. We know who’s inside the circle and who’s outside it. In fact, Circle of Friends was the title of a best-selling novel by Irish author Maeve Binchy, which was made into a popular film starring Minnie Driver and Colin Firth.
- Today, I want to talk about a practical extension of this metaphor. It’s a concept known as Circle of 6.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt isolated and a bit vulnerable? It might be that you were on your own on a dark street, or in a conversation where you felt trapped and wanted to escape. It might be at a party where someone is pestering you. It might even be that you are in a situation where you are afraid of someone. Circle of 6 aims to provide a resource in such situations.
- Circle of 6 is a free app that can be easily downloaded onto your smartphone. After you’ve downloaded it, you are asked to nominate six people whom you trust. These can be trusted friends of your own age who know you well, or responsible adults. A mix of both is probably best. This becomes your personal ‘circle of six’.
- There are three icons on the app.
- Tapping the chat icon sends a text to your circle that says, ‘I need to talk.’ You could use it when you need to chat with one or more of your circle because you have a problem or you’re feeling lonely.
- Tapping the phone icon sends a text to your circle that says, ‘Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.’ You could use it when you need one of your circle to break into an awkward situation that you’re in.
- Tapping the pin icon sends a text to your circle that says, ‘Come and get me. I need help getting home safely’ and includes the GPS coordinates for your location. This icon is the most important one - you would use it if you were in a situation where you didn’t feel safe.
Time for reflection
The Circle of 6 app was created in the USA as a means of helping students to deal with a growing number of attacks on campus. It is of particular help to female students, but has proved useful for male students, too. Circle of 6 has become widely used and evidence seems to suggest that the app has been a significant element in lowering the incidence of such attacks. Whatever the statistics say, Circle of 6 feels like a simple, useful resource that’s easily available to anyone who might find themselves in a vulnerable situation.
Of course, the pin icon is the most important. It’s a cry for help if you are in danger. It’s a comfort to carry during times of risk, however short-lived those times might be. It’s the next best thing to having another person right next to you. However, it’s important that your circle contains people who can reach you quickly, maybe at least one who can drive a car at a moment’s notice. The icon is for use in a crisis, so the response needs to be fast.
The phone icon is ingenious: how many times have you found yourself wishing you could bring a tedious conversation to an end or get yourself out of a corner you’re trapped in at a party? You tap the icon and when your phone rings, it immediately breaks into the moment. You look at your screen and you’re given the excuse to say that you need to take this call because it’s important. The person who is with you may be a little irritated, but at least you have a way out.
The chat icon means that you never need to feel alone. If you’re finding it hard to make a decision, you have others who can help, different points of view to balance your own or to confirm what you think. If you’re feeling depressed, you immediately have the warm voice of a friend right there with you. Quite simply, it’s good to talk.
Smartphones can be a cause of disagreement, especially in school, but they can also be invaluable!
Thank you for friends and adults we can trust.
Remind us of their availability so that we might never feel alone.
Thank you for technology and the advancement of science.
Thank you that we need never be alone.
‘You’ve got a friend’ by Carole King