If you read the blog regularly then you will already know that little man won an iPad mini just before Christmas with Vivo miles (his school reward system). If you didn’t read my blog post about the win, you can find it Here!
So… Recently, well a few weeks back in fact, I came across an article (well more than one actually) regarding the online raffle that my son won. The article told how a parent had reported Vivo Miles to the Gambling Commission after the parent accused the popular school reward scheme of encouraging gambling when they allowed pupils to take part in a raffle for high-tech gadgets.
Pupils were able to purchase raffle tickets from the points they had been awarded by their teaching staff. These tickets are paid with by points but worked out to the Equivalent of around 5p each in money.
It is said that the parent complained having discovered her son had taken part in the raffle without her permission. She was concerned about this and complained that her child had been allowed to gamble, spending his well earned points on an online lottery!
Now, before I go any further, I wish to make a few things known and noted…
Firstly… Yes… Little man did win an IPad mini on this very raffle, and No… this has no inference on my current thoughts and opinions on the subject. I have read the articles, given it some thought and done some research.
So, the articles are not that positive, the papers and online sites did well to highlight the less then positive factors within this story! As always things could have been better explained and other important factors included… But hay, where’s the juice in that?
Now… I understand the parents concerns, especially if she had no indication of her sons entry into the online raffle, but what everyone is forgetting to ask themselves is why didn’t she know?
As mentioned within the articles, shools pay to join the Vivo Miles reward programme. What it fails to mention is that each school receives a programme tailored to its specific needs and more importantly… budgets. The schools independently select items to be placed on the they’re schools profile. Pupils can then make selections from the school’s rewards and exchange these items for their points. Every item is pre-selected by members of staff within the school, So, this therefore includes the inclusion of the raffle itself.
The staff in charge of managing their online profile are the ones who have a duty to inform parents of the raffle… Not Vivo Miles. Vivo deal directly with the schools, even the rewards are sent directly to the schools as opposed to pupils home addresses.
I wish to add that Little mans school informed us, the parents! About the online raffle as soon as it went live. My daughters school (Mainstream Primary) don’t use Vivo miles but do always ran a school Christmas raffle! Here’s the difference….
My son’s school informed us by letter. They explained ticket prices and how the raffles would be run.
My daughters school also sent out letters stating the school office had raffle tickets for sale. The note states the price and suggestion that we give our children money to buy tickets when at school!
In many ways I struggle to see the differences! Only that little man would act more independently when deciding how many of his points to spend on tickets. I actually think this teaches some independent and decision making skills to the child.
Yes… The prize was nice! But also educational! For a child like little man on the autism spectrum, an iPad mini is a great tool, one that many schools are actually giving to pupils to use at school (costing them large amounts from its budget).
My daughters school also had great prizes on offer, some more expensive than others.
I also checked out some other school raffles by doing a google search and discovered that some schools were offering really elaborate prizes, such as hotel stays, bottles of champagne and games consoles. Again most of these schools wrote that children could come into school with the money to buy tickets. The only difference here is that parents know what they are sending the money in for, but its still an exchange of money and if anything a more realistic form of gambling due to the visual aspects of it! I was fully informed about the Vivo raffle and could have therefore stopped little man joining in anytime, just as I could have chosen for my daughter to opt out by not supplying her with the funds for the ticket (regardless of if its her pocket money).
The biggest issue I see is the schools mistake of not informing this parent of the Vivo Miles raffle (as it seems they didn’t).
I wonder if the parents who did have an issue with the online raffle feel the same when it comes to school tombolas. Kids can spend their pocket money on 3 tombola tickets for a pound. They can do this without a parents consent. Children open the tickets in the hope their raffle ticket ends in a 0 or a 9 to have their pick of prizes from the table. There is no limitation on the number of tickets kids can buy and although the prize is not an ipad its a relevant, its taking a gamble all the same! I my opinion its worse as the temptation is laid out before their very eyes.
For me the term lottery is a strong one!
As far as I’m concerned proceeds from the raffles that were in its 3rd month of trails were donated to charity.
Vivo also encourage children to donate points to their chosen charity & our kids are free to do so if they wish.
Now, I did hear that during the trails there was some sort of mix up. It has been stated that Vivo Miles insisted the raffles were only open to pupils in the 500 secondary schools subscribing to the scheme, but admitted that two primaries had also “inadvertently” been included.
What can I say… This is a careless mistake but one that both Vivo and the schools in question need hold accounting for.
It is rumoured that the parent who made the complaint is a parent to a primary school child aged 7 years. It is also noted that she was surprised when her child had told her he had participated in the raffle. All I want to know is why no one felt the need to monitor this child’s Internet usage. A child at 7 could run into allsorts of trouble, what with inappropriate website and child grooming! I for one would be monitoring my 7 year olds internet usage. Was this mother not regularly checking the sites her child visited and did she not feel the need to view her child’s Vivo profile at all. I have even seen a thread on a forum where it is said that primary aged children were making comments on the Vivo Facebook page, yet Facebook is a social networking site for children age 13+. In one sense these parents are rightfully complaining about their child taking part in an online raffle but in another sense happy for them to have free run of the net and chat on Facebook? Its our job as parents, along with those teaching our children, to protect them and teach safe Internet usage.
There is yet more rumours, one being that Vivo miles didn’t plan on giving all the money to charity. I was told in writing that the money would go to charitable courses when I was informed about the raffle. As of yet I haven’t had any reason to suspect otherwise.
Lastly… As noted, my opinion have no bearing on Little mans win. I spent a long time in a relationship with someone addicted to gambling and it tore apart my life for sometime. If I believed I was allowing my child into that world then I wouldn’t have allowed him to participate.
Since his win, my son has not become some over compulsive gambler. He doesn’t cling to me, dragging from my legs kicking and screaming begging me to buy him a scratch card or anything! His iPad has become a great communication tool, a place he can store a visual schedule that’s totally mobile and personalised to his needs, somewhere to store notes to remember important information, a learning and resource device, and of course a place to play Mindcraft… (Com on his got to let of steam somehow).
I’m confident in stating that little man has become much more independent since using Vivo miles. Having attended schools who’s past reward systems failed (let’s not forget this little boy with aspergers was left with no school as not one mainstream school said they could meet his needs) he has now been lucky enough to have discovered a programme that works for him.
Since attending special school his never again been excluded and considering this was a weekly occurrence, it would seem evident that Vivo mile, along with good teaching has given my son the opportunity of educational success.
Little man actually brought all the family small Christmas gifts with his points before buying any raffle tickets (see… he was budgeting). If Vivo miles were able to have continued the raffles would he have entered anymore? Maybe, maybe not! He hasn’t mentioned wanting to and if he wants something he knows how to bleb on about it. Why am i so confident that Vivo Miles haven’t created a gambling monster? Given he entered just the one raffle out the 3 or 4 that were run and the fact his not searching for more makes me confident. His plan has always been to save his points for next years Christmas shop… Now does this look like the ideas of a newly formed gambler?
No… It doesn’t!
He won a raffle, lots of kids do and will continue to do so for years to come!
We won’t apologise for that and I won’t admit to allowing my 12 year old child with Aspergers gamble… Because that is simply not the case!
Reference: Related Mumsnet forum thread
Also another blogger from across the pond has some interesting points on this story: Chellie’s World