'The internet is amazing. Children can play, learn, create and connect - opening up a whole world of exciting possibilities. But with the digital world changing all the time, how can you make sure your child’s staying safe?'
What is Online Safety?
Online safety is simply keeping yourself or someone else safe when using the internet. As a school we have a statutory duty, though our Computing and Healthy Relationships curriculum, to educate our children how to keep themselves safe online.
Click here for more information about staying safe online (NSPCC).
What is Online Abuse?
Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet. It can happen across any device that's connected to the internet, like computers, tablets and mobile phones. It can happen on any online platform, including:
- Social media
- Text messages and messaging apps
- Online chats
- Online gaming
- Live-streaming sites.
Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know or from strangers. It might be part of other abuse which is taking place offline, like bullying or grooming or the abuse might only happen online.
Who is at Risk from Online Bullying?
Any child who uses the internet can be at risk of online abuse. It's important parents are aware of the risks and talk to their child about staying safe online.
Click here for more information and advice on how to talk to your child about online safety.
Signs of Online Abuse
A child or young person experiencing abuse online might:
- Spend a lot more or a lot less time than usual online, texting, gaming or using social media
- Seem distant, upset or angry after using the internet or texting
- Be secretive about who they're talking to and what they're doing online or on their mobile phone
- Have lots of new phone numbers, texts or email addresses on their mobile phone, laptop or tablet.
If a Child Reveals Online Abuse
It can be difficult to know what to say and do if a child tells you they're being abused online. They might not realise what’s happening is wrong. and they might even blame themselves. If a child talks to you about online abuse it’s important to:
- Listen carefully to what they're saying
- Let them know they've done the right thing by telling you
- Tell them it's not their fault
- Say you'll take them seriously
- Don't confront the alleged abuser
- Explain what you'll do next
- Report what the child has told you as soon as possible.
How to Report Online Abuse
If you are worried about a child or children, yo can use the following ways to report online abuse:
- Call 999 if the child is at immediate risk or call 101 if you think a crime has been committed
- Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online. Click here to go to Crimestoppers web page.
Types of Online Abuse
Children and young people might experience different types of online abuse, such as:
- Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Exploitation
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online. Unlike bullying offline, online bullying can follow a child wherever they go, via social networks, gaming and mobile phones.
Cyberbullying can include:
- Sending threatening and abusive text messages.
- Creating and sharing embarrassing images or videos.
- Trolling - the sending of menacing or upsetting messages on social networks, chat room or online games.
- Excluding children from online games, activities or friendship groups.
- Shaming someone online.
- Setting up hate sites or groups about a particular child.
- Encourage young people to self harm.
- Voting for or against someone in an abusive poll.
- Creating fake accounts, hijacking or stealing online identities to embarrass a young person or cause trouble using their name.
- Sending explicit messages, also known as sexting.
- pressuring children into sending sexual images or engaging in sexual conversations.
Click here for more information about Cyberbullying (NSPCC).
Grooming is when someone builds a relationship with a child so they can sexually abuse, exploit or traffic them. Children can be groomed online or face-to-face by a stranger or someone they know.
What Grooming May Look like
Children and young people can be groomed online, in person or both – by a stranger or someone they know. This could be a family member, a friend or someone who has targeted them – like a teacher, faith group leader or sports coach. When a child is groomed online, groomers may hide who they are by sending photos or videos of other people. Sometimes this'll be of someone younger than them to gain the trust of a "peer". They might target one child online or contact lots of children very quickly and wait for them to reply.
The relationship a groomer builds can take different forms. This could be:
- a romantic relationship
- as a mentor
- an authority figure
- a dominant and persistent figure
A groomer can use the same sites, games and apps as young people, spending time learning about a young person's interests and use this to build a relationship with them. Children can be groomed online through:
- social media networks
- text messages and messaging apps, like Whatsapp
- text, voice and video chats in forums, games and apps.
Whether online or in person, groomers can use tactics like:
- pretending to be younger
- giving advice or showing understanding
- buying gifts
- giving attention
Groomers might also try and isolate children from their friends and family, making them feel dependent on them and giving the groomer power and control over them. They might use blackmail to make a child feel guilt and shame or introduce the idea of 'secrets' to control, frighten and intimidate.
It's important to remember that children and young people may not understand they've been groomed. They may have complicated feelings, like loyalty, admiration, love, as well as fear, distress and confusion.
Click here for more information on Grooming (NSPCC).
Sexting is when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others, or sends sexual messages. It's online abuse if a child or young person is pressured or coerced into creating or sending these types of images.
Click here for more information on Sexting (NSPCC).
Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is forced or tricked into sexual activities. Sexual abuse can happen online - for example, a child could be forced to make, view or share child abuse images or videos or take part in sexual activities on conversations online.
Click here for more information on online sexual abuse (NSPCC).
Child Sexual Exploitation
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. When a child is sexually exploited online they may be persuaded or forced to create sexually explicit photos or videos or have sexual conversations.
Children and young people are often tricked into believing they're in a loving and consensual relationship. This is called grooming. They may trust their abuser and not understand that they're being abused.
Children and young people can be trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited. They're moved around the country and abused by being forced to take part in sexual activities, often with more than one person. Young people in gangs can also be sexually exploited.
Sometimes abusers use violence and intimidation to frighten or force a child or young person, making them feel as if they've no choice. They may lend them large sums of money they know can't be repaid or use financial abuse to control them.
Anybody can be a perpetrator of CSE, no matter their age, gender or race. The relationship could be framed as friendship, someone to look up to or romantic. Children and young people who are exploited may also be used to 'find' or coerce others to join groups.
CSE can happen in person or online. An abuser will gain a child's trust or control them through violence or blackmail before moving onto sexually abusing them. This can happen in a short period of time.
When a child is sexually exploited online they might be persuaded or forced to:
- send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
- film or stream sexual activities
- have sexual conversations.
Click here for more information on Child Sexual Exploitation
Are you worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating online?
CEOP is a law enforcement agency and is there to help keep children and young people safe from sexual abuse and grooming online. They help thousands of children and young people every year who have been in a similar situation. CEOP are unable to respond to reports about bullying, fake accounts or account hacking.
They are there to help and give advice, and you can make a report directly to them if something has happened online which has made you feel unsafe, scared or worried. This might be from someone you know in real life, or someone you have only ever met online.
If you make a report about sexual abuse or grooming online it will be read by one of the Child Protection Advisors who will get in contact with you.
Please also tell an adult that you trust, like a parent/carer or teacher.
Keeping your child safe online
Please use the following checklist and the uploaded documents to help you keep your child safe.
To help keep your child safe, it is important that you understand how they use the internet.
By following this simple checklist, you can start to protect them and decrease the risks they face:
- I have asked my child to show me sites they use – By doing so, your child is including you in their online life and social activity. Show an interest and take note of the names of their favourite sites. You can then re-visit these when you are alone. Take your time and explore the space, find out how to set the safety features and learn how to report any issues directly to the site.
- I have asked my child about their online friends – We know that people lie online about who they are and may create fake identities. It is very important children understand this. Whether they are visiting a social network or a gaming site, the safety messages are the same. Children and young people must never give out personal information and only be “friends” with people they know and trust in the real world.
- I have set appropriate parental controls on my child’s computer, mobile and games console – Filters on computers and mobiles can prevent your child from viewing inappropriate and possibly illegal content. You can activate and change levels depending on your child’s age and abilities. You can also set time restrictions for using the internet or games. They can be free and easy to install. Call your service provider who will be happy to assist or visit CEOP’s parents' site for further information. Explain to your child why you are setting parental controls when you talk to them about their internet use
- My child has agreed to tell me if they are worried about something online – Sometimes children get into situations online where they don’t feel comfortable or see something they don’t want to see. By opening up the communication channels and talking to your child about the internet, their favourite sites and the risks they may encounter, they are more likely to turn to you if they are concerned about something.
For further e-safety information please click on the following website links
National Online Safety (wake up Wednesday Leaflets)
Please see the uploaded files at the bottom of this page for further information.