Safeguarding: Keeping Children Safe Online

Safeguarding: Keeping Children Safe Online

Posted  14th July 2021

Keeping Children Safe Online

This is a summary taken from Judicium’s Safeguarding ‘Sofa Session’ from the 14th of July, with Judicium’s Head of Safeguarding, Hannah Glossop. The session was centred on top tips for keeping children safe online, from a Safeguarding perspective.

It goes without saying that the pandemic has had a massive impact on students. Over the last years students have been spending a huge amount of time online, and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. We recognize that many forms of abuse can now happen online. We have talked about radicalization online for many years, but we are also now seeing child criminal exploitation, county lines, child sexual exploitation, all happening through online means.

Ofsted’s most recent review of sexual abuse in schools unveiled some quite shocking statistics;

  • Nearly 90% of girls that Ofsted spoke to in that review had been sent explicit pictures or videos of things that they did not want to see.
  • 50% of boys questioned in the survey, said that they have also been sent explicit pictures or videos of things that they did not want to see.

Tip 1: Read updated online KCSIE September 2021.

The bulk of online safety information has been moved to Part Two-Management of safeguarding pages 32-34 and is no longer just a “tucked” away annex. The DfE has stated that: “We wanted to ensure that online safety information was given greater prominence”

Paragraph 123 states that: “An effective whole school and college approach to online safety empowers a school or college to protect and educate pupils, students, and staff”. It powers a school or college to protect and educate people's students and staff.

There are also now four areas of risk to online safety (the 4 C’), and not just 3 as previously:

  1. content,
  2. contact,
  3. conduct and
  4. with commerce being the new one.

Commerce includes students being involved in online gambling, inappropriate advertising, or finance scams.

There is also a need now for the Online safety policy to be included in your Child Protection policy -“Online safety and the school or college’s approach to it should be reflected in the child protection policy” and “The school or college should have a clear policy on the use of mobile and smart technology.” You should be basing this policy around the 4 C’S and the steps you are taking to protect your pupils.

Schools and colleges should also consider carrying out an annual review of their approach to online safety, supported by an annual risk assessment that considers and reflects the risks their children face.

Tip 2: Evaluate what your students are taught about online safety.

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that children are taught about safeguarding, including online safety. They can stay in the loop by receiving regular updates of information being shared and monitored in the school and actually actioning anything they think can be improved based on this.

It also important to have a behavioural policy in place so pupils know how to conduct themselves online, the same what they would anywhere else on the school grounds. Also, what the potential consequences might be if this is not being done.

Make online safety part of your subjects and teach your pupils what positive, healthy, and respectful online relationships look like as well as the effects of their online actions on others and knowing how to recognise and display respectful behaviour online. Include these in other subjects, for example computing, citizenship covers, media literacy, etc.

Underpinning knowledge and behaviours include:

  • How to evaluate what they see online,
  • How to recognise techniques used for persuasion,
  • Online behaviour,
  • How to identify online risks,
  • How and when to seek support,

It’s key for pupils to be taught how elements of online activity can adversely affect a pupil’s wellbeing, for example the it has impact on confidence, reputational damage and people behaving differently online versus offline.

Also consider your different groups of pupils, for example looked after children and those with special educational needs, who may be more susceptible to online harm and how these groups are being catered for.

Once the curriculum areas are planned reassess the following:

  • What do students understand?
  • What do they remember?
  • How could lessons be further improved?
Above all else, remember to create a safe environment where pupils feel comfortable to disclose and not be judged so that they feel comfortable talking to someone if they feel threatened.

Tip 3: Ensure your approach to e-Safety is a whole school approach.

It’s important that your e-Safety is not just something covered by IT and the Computing departments. It needs to be reflected in all policies, procedures throughout your school, for example in your behaviour policy and home school agreements.

Engage with your staff and students. Ask them what they think is needed and what else could be added? Children are our most honest critics and may help to see it from a different perspective – use this to your advantage.

It’s key to constantly model strong online safety principles and the expectations of online safety inside as well as outside the class room. Speak about this in assemblies, and make sure if someone is behaving unsafely online that the appropriate sanctions are given.

As with most areas in your school, training your staff plays a big role at embedding online safety into your school’s culture. Ensure your e-Safety training is prevalent in staff training, both at induction and throughout the year as part of safeguarding approach.

Tip 4: Filtering and monitoring systems.

As part of this process, governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place. The appropriateness of any filters and monitoring systems are a matter for individual schools and colleges to decide on an interpret.

Be careful of over blocking as this can also lead you to not pick up if there is potentially a problem. You might not be able to pick up if you have a student, or group of students looking at specific sites as everything is just blocked for ease.

The UK Safer Internet Centre has published guidance as to what “appropriate” filtering and monitoring might look like with Monitoring options being the following:

  1. Physical monitoring
  2. Logfile information that details website access and search term usage against individuals
  3. Active technology monitoring services-generating alerts for the school to act upon
  4. Any monitoring as a minimum should cover 10 key areas e.g. illegal activity, bullying, CSE, extremism, pornography, self-harm, and suicide, amongst others.
The UK Safer Internet Centre website has completed self-certify documents, where monitoring providers use the UK Safer Internet Centre’s checklist and add their responses. The link will follow below in the “Useful links” section.

Tip 5: Engage parents and share tips with them.

During the KCSIE consultations, interestingly, a small number of respondents did not support the proposed changes and felt that more responsibility should be with parents/carers and that the changes would increase the burden on schools in particular the DSL.

As this might be true, it might be beneficial for your teachers to engage and educate your parents as this would end up saving time. Consider the amount of time spent outside of school on phones, tablets, etc and the trouble this can cause in school and how this might automatically influence your school day.

Childnet: Parents and carers resource sheet and Internet Matters: age-specific online safety from 0-5 to 14+, are both great resources for your parents.

Think about school specific issues that need addressing with parents and consider time-effective ways to share key messages with parents. Examples include newsletters, information at parents’ evenings, or even Zoom sessions and “drop in” with the PTA. It’s not necessarily our place to educate parents-but if it works for your school, why not?

To summarise, ultimately, e-Safety is not down to just the e-Safety lead. It needs to be a whole school approach, which involves multiple stakeholders and constant reflection. Remember to focus on underpinning behaviours.


Helpful links to resources:



Please also see below for more information about Judicium’s Safeguarding service:

https://www.judiciumeducation.co.uk/safeguarding-service

 

If you require support in any of these steps or would like to talk to someone regarding support for your school, please do not hesitate to call us on 020 7336 8403 or email tara.jones@judicium.com.