RELATED LOCAL INFORMATION
RELATED NATIONAL INFORMATION
This is non-statutory, supplementary guidance to existing 2000 statutory guidance:
Every child and young person should be able to participate in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse and these same principles apply in the online environment. This is the responsibility of every adult.
The Internet offers tremendous benefits and opportunities for children and young people and this procedure is certainly not intended to curtail any potential for fun, entertainment and learning. However, as with any social space, using the internet will pose some risks for children and young people particularly if they are unaware of the way that information / technology can be used by others (children / adults) with ill-intent to exploit or abuse them.
Child abuse is a very emotive and difficult subject for everyone involved. When the abuse / harm occurs online it can be even more challenging because many people who are significant in the child's life may not be as knowledgeable about the technology used. Indeed it is likely that the child or young person may know more than the adults around them about how to use the technology.
A child could experience abuse/harm online without actually ever meeting the person causing the harm in 'real life'. The abuser could also remain anonymous or adopt a pseudo identity.
Young people may be worried about confiding in adults about concerns or worries about things happening to them online through fear of the adult over reacting and / or confiscating their treasured device as an ill informed method of safeguarding that child.
It is important to remember it is not the technology itself that is the source of harm but rather the behaviour of another person that causes harm whilst online. Confiscating a particular device is therefore not an appropriate response to safeguard a child from harm online. The arrangements in response to harm/potential harm experienced online should be same as the arrangements in response to harm experienced by a young person in the 'real world'.
When this policy refers to 'online', this means somebody using a device to gain access to the Internet. How somebody accesses the Internet or 'gets on line' will vary massively especially as technology is changing so rapidly; the list below is a starting point of different means of getting online. However this is certainly not exhaustive and will change over time:
All agencies providing Internet access to children and young people should have an Acceptable Use Policy, which sets out the roles, responsibilities and procedures for the acceptable, safe and responsible use of online technologies.
An example of an ICT Acceptable Use Policy for staff and young people (AUP) can be found in Appendix 1: Example of an ICT Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for Staff and Young People.
Byron (2008) classifies the online risks to children in terms of content, contact and conduct. Byron goes on to say that to reduce risks means achieving three objectives:
Objective 1: Reduce Availability
Reduce the availability of harmful and inappropriate content, the prevalence of harmful and inappropriate contact and the conduciveness of platforms to harmful and inappropriate conduct;
Objective 2: Restrict Access
Equip children and their parents to effectively manage access to harmful and inappropriate content, avoid incidences of harmful and inappropriate contact and reduce harmful and inappropriate conduct;
Objective 3: Increase Resilience
Equip children to deal with exposure to harmful and inappropriate content and contact, and equip parents to help their children deal with these things and parent effectively around incidences of harmful and inappropriate conduct by their children.
Therefore any e-safety policy should address these strategic objectives.In particular, the third objective is very important. If children and their parents can be empowered to safely manage the availability of and access to harmful contact, content and conduct then it will be less necessary for agencies to impose restrictions on availability and access.
Creating a safe environment for the use of electronic media is as much about a safe working culture and practices as it is about putting into place technical safeguards.
There are 3 components to creating a safe environment:
The following questions are helpful to assess how e-safe your organisation is:
Does your organisation........
Do all your staff and volunteers........
Do your children and young people........
Can your parents and carers........
When there are concerns about the welfare of a child which have occurred online then the agency should use its usual safeguarding children procedures and good practice to respond to these. In this sense the context of the abuse / harm occurring online is no different to other situations where there is a concern about a child's welfare.
If there is a concern about actual Significant Harm or the risk of Significant Harm to a child arising whist online then the agency should immediately activate its own safeguarding children or child protection procedures, and make a referral to Children's Social Care - see Luton Protocol for Single Assessments in Children's Social Care. Again this is no different to concerns in other situations. If a child or young person is in immediate danger then contact the Police on 999.
When an incident raises concerns both about Significant Harm and unacceptable use, the first and paramount consideration should always be the welfare and safety of the child directly involved.
To assist Police in any subsequent investigations, where possible, staff who are made aware of online abuse or inappropriate activity should try to preserve copies or records of offending material and obtain any relevant passwords to accounts or websites, where possible.Suspected online terrorist material can be reported through www.gov.uk/report-terrorism. Reports can be made anonymously, although practitioners should not do so as they must follow the procedures for professionals. Content of concern can also be reported directly to social media platforms – see UK Safer Internet Centre, Social media help website.
If staff (paid/unpaid) behave in ways online that cause concern then this will usually be dealt with under the auspices of the Acceptable Use Policy or Standards of Proficiency of the agency (see example of an acceptable use policy in Appendix 1: Example of an ICT Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for Staff and Young People and a Standards of Proficiency for online communication in Appendix 2: Example of a Standards of Proficiency Written for All Staff (Paid /Unpaid) When Using Online Communication). Acceptable Use Policies define what behaviour is acceptable when using digital technology and should be in place to help everyone understand all aspects of their duties when technology is involved.
However, if the conduct by staff or volunteers amounts to a concern about an abusive relationship with, or harmful behaviour towards, a child or young person then the Allegations and Concerns regarding Staff, Carers and Volunteers Working with Children and Young People Procedure should be followed.
Everyone who works with children and young people, whether in a voluntary or paid capacity, must always have their professional role in mind whenever they are operating in the digital world.E-Safety Working Practices for Staff Procedure sets out good practice guidelines when working with children and young people.
There have been an increasing number of incidents where young people have shared sexual images of themselves (referred to as 'sexting'). Where this happens, images have usually been shared with a partner or intended partner as a form of flirtation or - in the eyes of the young person - 'safe sex'. Sometimes this is as a result of pressure, however.
Whatever had prompted the sending of the image, the act itself poses a risk to the young person in the image: once it has been shared it is liable to be distributed further. The young person is then exposed to risk of high-level bullying and to the possibility of being stalked by a paedophile who has become fixated on them after finding the image online.
Young people of an age likely to consider such actions should be educated about the risks.
Any incidents that come to light should be handled carefully, bearing in mind both that possession of the images may constitute an offence in itself, and the child or young person whose image has been shared is at risk and may already be subject to an exploitative relationship.
There have been a number of cases of images or video of children or young people under the age of 16 engaging in sexual activity being shared. These are legally images of child sexual abuse, even if they have been shared by others of the same age. All such cases are evidence of a child or young person being sexually exploited and should be dealt with as such.
If images or video of children engaged in sexual activity or in revealing poses are known to have been posted online, the following guidelines should be followed:
Suspected online terrorist material can be reported through www.gov.uk/report-terrorism. Reports can be made anonymously, although practitioners should not do so as they must follow the procedures for professionals. Content of concern can also be reported directly to social media platforms – see UK Safer Internet Centre, Social media help website.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is part of UK police and is dedicated to protecting children from sexual abuse wherever they may be. It provides a range of training and information resources and can be accessed at: Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
CEOP has a separate website for children, young people, parents, carers and practitioners and this gives advice on how children and young people can keep safe and in control when they are online. It also has information on how these groups of people can report concerns about harmful behaviour online. This can be accessed at: thinkuknow.
Inappropriate or harmful material online can be reported to the IWF. More details are at: Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
ChildLine is the free helpline for children and young people in the UK. Children and young people can call on 0800 1111 to talk about any problem - counsellors are always here to help you sort it out. See Childline website.
Childnet mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the Internet a great and safe place for children.
In all its work Childnet seeks to take a balanced approach promoting the positive and highlighting the creative and inspiring ways children and young people are using the medium for good. You can also read about the ways to respond to the negative aspects and dangers for children on the Childnet website.
The Department for Education has published guidance for all organisations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), compiled by members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), on child internet safety. Issues covered include chatting online, sharing information online, gaming and networking.
'Munch, Poke, Ping' is a report produced for the UK Government's Training and Development Agency (TDA) in 2011. It considers the risks which vulnerable young people, excluded from schools and being taught in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), encounter online and through their mobile phones. It considers what specific advice, support and safeguarding training staff working with these vulnerable young people need when it comes to understanding social media and mobile technology.
Coram Children's Legal Centre - LawStuff is run by Coram Children's Legal Centre and gives free legal information to young people on a range of different issues. See Children's rights in the digital world in particular.
Please Note: This Standards of Proficiency is not exhaustive and should be amended to reflect any additional expectations of staff and the age and development of the children / young people they are working with.
Adults who work with children and young people are responsible for their own actions and behaviour and should avoid any conduct which would lead any reasonable person to question their motives and intentions.
All communication by staff via any form of online communication will be for professional purposes only.
Any communication will be sent via a professional address only clearly showing the staff members name, job role and organisation.
All communication should acknowledge and maintain expected professional boundaries and be transparent and open to scrutiny.
Communicate with young people should be for professional purposes only.
Staff should not share their personal contact details with young people; this includes personal mobile numbers, email addresses, Social Networking profiles, Twitter accounts etc.
Staff should never accept a 'friend requests' from a young people or request a young people to be their 'friend'.
All staff are responsible for the security of their individual log-in and password and subsequently any communications sent from their address; they should not share their password and / or allow anybody else to log assuming their identity.
Any staff member who discovers their account has been hacked and / or their identity assumed should report this to their line manager.
All staff should record and report without delay any situation where they feel the actions of themselves / others (including young people) may have compromised the organisations or their own professional standing. Such incidents should be reported to their line manager.
Any member of staff concerned about the professional conduct of another member of staff should report this to their line manager in line with TSCB Procedure for Managing Allegations against Adults who work with Children and Young People.Failure to comply with this Standards of Proficiency may result in disciplinary action.
Only valid for 48hrs