Protecting young people

As the internet becomes an ever-increasing part of many people’s daily lives – young people in particular – it is essential that children are protected from the dangers that this technology can bring.

The Government have announced that all schools will be required to impose strengthened measures to protect children from harm online; including cyber bullying, pornography and the risk of radicalisation.

Proposals were announced in December for all schools to ensure they have appropriate filters and monitoring systems, and to be required to teach pupils about safeguarding, including online.

The Department for Education are currently running a consultation on these plans, more information can be found via their website at: www.gov.uk/dfe

Practical guides have also been published to ensure good practice. One will be for the social media companies themselves, who have a responsibility to protect users, and one will be for parents to help keep their children safe.

These have been compiled by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). For more information and to read these guides, please visit: http://bit.do/UKCCIS

The National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has also published new advice by updating the ThinkUKnow website: www.thinkuknow.co.uk

This provides information for parents and carers, teachers and trainers, as well as for pupils and students, for advice and information on keeping safe online. This includes resources for use either at home or in the classroom, as well as an option to alert the authorities if you are concerned about someone that a young person is talking to online.

As a parent myself I know it is important to make use of this sort of advice. We all want to protect our children but with an increasing number of ways to use the internet and talk to people online, vigilance is required.

The risks cannot be underestimated – the Government have confirmed that some school children who travelled, or attempted to travel, to Syria were able to access material relating to Daesh and foreign fighters through school computers.

New online training will be launched this year for professionals working with young people, including teachers, doctors and nurses, to help equip them to support children with regard to online risks.

In 2014, the Government ensured internet safety was a compulsory part of the curriculum. Schools can also teach this as part of PSHE lessons – and are required in law to have measures to prevent bullying and cyber bullying.

The Department for Education have also set up a telephone helpline: 020 7340 7264 and an email address: counter.extremism@education.gsi.gov.uk – for anyone with concerns to raise these directly with the department.