Against the background of changing technologies, all organisations that work with children and young people have a responsibility to safeguard those children.
The Government response to this is in the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 document which outlines responsibilities and desired outcomes. There are also several UK and regional laws and procedural documents protecting children. Some are specific and a good example in schools and colleges is in the Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019.
All schools, including Designated Safeguard Leads, will have various forms of training in safeguarding. Has that training extended into online safeguarding (of both children and adults)? Studies from data obtained over the last 8years from over 12,000 schools across the UK (360safe.org.uk) indicates that staff training around online safeguarding is one of the weakest strands in the child protection link. When was the last time that your school or organisation had online safeguarding awareness sessions for your staff? Indeed have you ever had it?
Are your staff aware of how their data is stored, used and kept and do they fully understand that there is no privacy online? Do your staff understand what the latest most popular online sites are for children? More importantly, do they understand how a child’s behaviour may be affected by online incidents/issues? How do your staff deal with an online incident that has happened outside your organisation but has been brought into your workplace? Where and to who do staff/children go to report an incident? If you are in a school do you understand Ofsted expectations around online protection? Do you know where you as an organisation can get help and support and how?
More and more the use of technology is embedded in our everyday lives. There are as always great positives, but we all need to plan and prepare for the negatives. Taking the time to train your staff may well save an incident escalating through a lack of knowledge of the online world and how to deal with it.
In schools please consider online safety lessons for your children. If you are already undertaking these fantastic! As a presenter who has spoken to thousands of children in schools across the UK over 13 years, I can promise you they are only too keen to have an honest and open discussion around their online lives good and bad.
Is it time you gave some consideration on how you, your staff and your children can benefit from online safety training? Increasing your staff and children’s awareness of digital literacy and safety can surely only be a good thing as we enter the blue sky 2020’s.