e-Safety

The internet and information and communications technology (ICT)

The use of the Internet and ICT offers a variety of benefits to everyone who is willing to use it. The enormous amount of information available and the many uses one can have through the internet have made it one of the most valuable tools in the life of many people. The internet has an enormous amount of publications added on it every day and has evolved into the most powerful source of information ever. The internet has made every day jobs easier and oversimplified tasks that would take an enormous amount of time before, for example banking, shopping and jobsearching. Furthermore, the internet has opened new areas of employment and expanded the opportunity of working from home. The internet is also one of the most valuable tools in education since it provides an enormous amount of information and is the greatest source of reference for educators and students. Another major benefit of the internet is its ability to minimize distances and provide communication services efficiently and without any cost.  In general, the internet is a multi-tool with applications for every aspect of someone’s life. However, it is important to remember the vast majority of the internet is unmanaged and anyone can send messages, discuss ideas and publish material with little restriction.

So what is e-Safety?

e-Safety – the safe and responsible use of technology – is sometimes presented as primarily a child protection issue. While children, young people and vulnerable adults do need support to keep themselves safe online, the risks associated with the use of technology are not confined to them. e-Safety issues may also affect adults – for example, the mismanagement of personal data, and risks of financial scams, identity theft and cyberbullying. This will be particularly relevant for those adults who are new to using technology.There is wealth of online resources to support organisations and individuals in keeping safe online. e-Safety encompasses not only internet technologies but also electronic communications via mobile phones, games consoles and wireless technology. It highlights the need to educate children and young people about the benefits, risks and responsibilities of using information technology.

  • e-Safety concerns safeguarding children and young people in the digital world

  • e-Safety emphasises learning to understand and use new technologies in a positive way

  • e-Safety is less about restriction and more about education covering the risks as well as the benefits so we can feel confident online

  • e-Safety is concerned with supporting children and young people to develop safer online behaviours both in and out of school and college

Typical areas of concern

Illegal or unsuitable content online, includes:

  • pornography

  • child abuse images

  • dangerous advice encouraging eating disorders, self-harm or suicide

  • excessive violence or race hate materials

Some websites show illegal content. Others that are legal might have unregulated advice or are meant for adults only. Children may come across this content by mistake, or they may look for it because they’re curious. Promises of special offers or prizes can also draw young people in.

Some websites and games use age restrictions and checks to make sure that children don’t see unsuitable content. Children must be at least 13 to register on most social networking websites. But there’s not a lot standing in the way of children joining these sites at a younger age. Age limits are there to keep children safe so you shouldn’t feel pressurised into letting younger children join these websites.

Chatting or becoming ‘friends’ with people on social networks or online games should be handled with serious caution. This can make individuals vulnerable to bullying, grooming and sharing personal information.

Privacy controls can limit who can see your details, like name, age and where you live. But remember when you connect with someone as a ‘friend’, that person will have access to your  personal information. Some ‘free’ games might ask you to fill out lots of details before they can play and then illegally rent or sell this data on to others.

GPS and location tracking

Lots of apps and social networking sites use software to locate where the user is. You can also reveal your location by tagging photos, such as on Instagram, or checking in on Facebook or Foursquare. This means that people can find out where you live, socialise, work or study.

Many online games are free but offer the chance to buy items such as extra lives or new levels. So it can become very easy to run up big bills without realising. Gambling sites have strict measures to make sure that their users are adults, but it can still be easy to become enticed by offers and prizes on gambling websites and build up large debts.

Grooming

  • Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child or young person to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation

  • Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional

  • Groomers may be male or female. They could be any age

  • Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed, or that what has happened is abuse

How grooming happens

Grooming happens both online and in person. Groomers will hide their true intentions and may spend a long time gaining a child’s trust. They may also try to gain the trust of the whole family so they can be alone with the child.

Groomers do this by:

  • pretending to be someone they are not, for example saying they are the same age online

  • offering advice or understanding

  • buying gifts

  • giving the child attention

  • using their professional position or reputation

  • taking them on trips, outings or holidays

Using secrets and intimidation to control children

Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by isolating the child from friends or family and making the child feel dependent on them. They will use any means of power or control to make a child believe they have no choice but to do what they want. Groomers may introduce ‘secrets’ as a way to control or frighten the child. Sometimes they will blackmail the child, or make them feel ashamed or guilty, to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

Online grooming

Groomers can use social media sites, instant messaging apps including teen dating apps, or online gaming platforms to connect with a young person or child. They can spend time learning about a young person’s interests from their online profiles and then use this knowledge to help them build up a relationship. It’s easy for groomers to hide their identity online – they may pretend to be a child and then chat and become ‘friends’ with children they are targeting.

Groomers may look for:

  • usernames or comments that are flirtatious or have a sexual meaning

  • public comments that suggest a child has low self-esteem or is vulnerable

Groomers don’t always target a particular child. Sometimes they will send messages to hundreds of young people and wait to see who responds. Groomers no longer need to meet children in real life to abuse them. Increasingly, groomers are sexually exploiting their victims by persuading them to take part in online sexual activity. Nobody really knows how common grooming is because often children don’t tell anyone what is happening to them.

Children may not speak out because they are:

  • ashamed

  • feeling guilty

  • unaware that they’re being abused

  • believe they are in a relationship with a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’

Four key things you should consider doing at home:

Educate

Educate yourself, go on to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest and Pheed to find out what they are all about. Educate your children talk about what they should and shouldn’t share and what they shouldn’t say, for example anything they wouldn’t say to someone’s face or that could be innapropriate or hurtful. Make sure your family understand that their ‘digital footprint’ can be seen by school, universities, colleges and employers in the future so it’s important to exercise caution now.

Monitor

As far as you can, engage with your children and talk about what they are doing online. Younger children should only use the internet when they are in a family area and you can keep a constant eye on what they are doing. As they get older they will demand more privacy, but it’s important to stay interested. Ask them to show you their social media feeds, share yours with them, ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ them (if they will let you) and keep the lines of communication open.

Protect

There are filtering systems available that will block unsuitable content. Some are free, others you can buy. Filtering can be very eff ective but no system is 100% foolproof, so education remains key.

Support

We all make mistakes, particularly when we are young. Be approachable. Make sure your children know they can talk to you if something goes wrong. And make sure you know what to do if it does. Many sites now have ‘report abuse’ buttons where you can report inappropriate behaviour.

Basic guidelines

  • Always think of your personal safety first when using the internet, any ICT or your mobile phone. Remember it is easy for anyone to lie about who they are online, so you can never really be sure about who you are talking to

  • Do not give out any personal information about yourself online to people you do not know. This includes your full name, address, street name, postcode, school name or workplace

  • Never give your contact number to anyone who you don’t know

  • It’s a good idea to use a nickname rather than your real name

  • Don’t meet people that you do not know and have only spoken to online

  • Never give out pictures online or over a mobile unless you genuinely know the person in real life. It is easy for people to take your pictures and alter them, send them on, or even pretend to be you with them

  • Always use private settings whenever you are setting up social networking pages etc. This is so people who you don’t want to see your profile can’t

  • Anything you post or upload to the internet is there forever so be very careful what you put online

  • Never go onto webcam with people you don’t know in real life. Webcam images can be recorded and copied and also shared with other people

  • If you receive any messages or pictures that worry or upset you should discuss it with someone you trust

 

Reporting

If you think a child is at immediate risk call 999.

 

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Want to report suspicious behaviour online with or towards a child?

Use the CEOP online report form

 

Want to report illegal content online?

Report to the Internet Watch Foundation

 

Want to report other non-emergency crime?

Report it to your local police force:
in England and Wales
in Northern Ireland
in Scotland

 

Want to report a crime anonymously?

Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

 

For further information or to report an issue go to the official National Crime Agency CEOP Command website

CEOP Command website

 

For guidelines and information go to the CEOP Thinkuknow website

CEOP Thinkuknow website

 

To make a CEOP report go to:

Make a CEOP report

 

National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children

NSPCC website

 

If you need any further help or advice, please contact the Careers and Employability Team