Link2ICT supports schools to keep children safe in the real and digital world

This continues to be a focus as technology and online content continually evolves presenting more opportunities, but also risks that need to be addressed through effective education and support. Keep up-to-date with safeguarding in education as he reflects on new and emerging challenges for both teachers and pupils that are presented by the ever- changing digital world.

Inevitably, young people won't always do what you expect them to when they venture onto the internet. Therefore, Andy looks at the choices young people may make when engaging with others online:

"I had a conversation with a young adult recently who admitted that while she was at secondary school, they went through a phase of 'trolling for weirdos’ on chatroulette. She wouldn't elaborate too much on the sort of things they saw but it often included inappropriate sexual behaviour from men of different ages. This was someone who knew the rules and the risks but made a choice on how they would behave with their group of friends."

Andy Pyper, Safeguarding Manager at Link2ICT

 

Peer pressure or peer influence will often play a part in how young people use technology, so if your friends are talking about or using a particular app, then it drives curiosity and also ensures you will not be excluded if you don't join in.

While some will deliberately take risks and push the boundaries as with chatroulette above, others will put themselves at risk through naivety, immaturity or a desire to be included for example, posting an image of themselves without considering the potential for negative comments and the impact this can have.

For schools, this makes it very difficult to predict what incidents will occur and who may be involved, which then leads to a very reactive approach to dealing with an issue when it happens. A much better approach in school would be to assume that you will experience most of the issues at some point in the future and plan out the actions, support and follow-up for each issue in advance. As an aside, this should then also feed into your curriculum to equip the young people with the skills and knowledge they need to make more informed choices online.

All of this means that when an incident occurs, all staff know how to respond and the actions to take, to support the individual and manage the event. This will also help to minimise the impact on the young person involved if it is dealt with calmly, in a routine manner following an established procedure rather than having staff unsure of how to proceed. We regularly spend time with colleagues carrying out risk exercises and mapping out responses, so if you would like to know more, please do get in touch.

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