Safeguarding Children and Young People in a Digital World

Safeguarding Children and Young People in a Digital World
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How to create your e-safety strategy – advice from Kidscape

Organisations that work with children and young people must take a proactive approach to protecting them from cyber bullying and online risk, instead of only reacting once an incident occurs. It is imperative that these issues are discussed early and often, and procedures are firmly in place to safeguard students and staff.

1) Take cyber bullying very seriously 

It is imperative that when a cyber bullying incident is reported it should be taken very seriously and investigated; following the protocols set within the organisation’s e-safety and  anti-bullying policies, supporting the target and adequately disciplining the perpetrators.

2) Educate, educate, educate!  

Specific lessons and activities about cyber bullying and online risk will ensure young people are equipped with the knowledge to recognise suspicious or bullying behaviour and protect themselves from harm. To ensure messages are streamlined and firmly embedded, create links across the curriculum, for example between PSHE and ICT, and repeat lessons throughout every Key Stage. Lessons should cover:

  • The risks associated with using the internet—particularly in regards to communications and social networking; 
  • How to protect themselves from these potential risks and recognise suspicious or bullying behaviour; 
  • The definition of cyber bullying and its different forms; 
  • The effects of cyber bullying on the target and how to treat each other’s online identities with respect; 
  • The consequences of negative online behaviour; 
  • How to report cyber bullying and/or incidents that make them feel uncomfortable or under threat;
  • The school/organisation’s stance on e-safety and online protocol, and how it will discipline those who misbehave.


3) Champion reporting 

Encourage young people to always tell staff about cyber bullying or anything they see online that makes them feel uncomfortable such as adult or violent content, or if someone they do not know has been contacting them. Young people often do not report cyber bullying incidents because they worry about repercussions. And if they stumble across content such as pornography, they will usually feel too embarrassed to bring it up, or assume they will get in trouble. To combat this it is important that these topics are addressed in class, to dispel any awkwardness, encourage open discussion and give young people the tools to protect themselves. Also encourage the role of bystanders – have a specific lesson on what young people can do if they see it happen to others online.

4) Recognise the signs 

Through keeping a keen eye on young people’s behaviour and the social balances of peer groups, professionals are often able to tell when something might be wrong. Observe dynamics at break times and pick up on conversations or gossip that suggests a young person is worried about something or there is conflict between individuals or groups.  

If a young person is experiencing cyber bullying, they may exhibit the following signs: 

  • Appear depressed or anxious. 
  • Become withdrawn and disengaged.
  • Have a loss of friends. 
  • Increasing absence or sickness. 
  • Declining grades and a lack of interest in school. 
  • Avoids or stops using technology.

5) Involve parents

Parents are intrinsic to ensuring an e-safety strategy is successful. Invite them to workshops about online risk and safeguarding issues; give them practical tips on how they can reiterate messages and protect their children online in the home environment. Ensure the efforts of the school or organisation are shared, and that each parent understands the protocols in place for reporting incidents, and how complaints will be managed. 

6) FINALLY –

…it’s vital to invest in staff training so your team understands how to act and when. If you would like to find out more about how Kidscape can help with your e-safety policy, contact us at training@kidscape.org.uk or 020 7730 3300.  You can find more resources for professionals here:https://kidscape.org.uk/professionals

The Preventing Bullying course on recognising and preventing bullying behaviour is part of EduCare's training bundle for education settings. Find out about the EduCare for Education training courses today.

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