Guest blog: Safeguarding in the digital age

Posted  7th April 2021
Posted by  Georgina de Costa

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The last year has proved just how dependant we all are on the internet, with lots of us spending significantly more time online.

However, not everything we read online is true, we have been concerned by the increasing stories of cyber crime, fraud and ransomware attacks. To put this into perspective, if informed adults and large companies with IT experts have been successfully hoodwinked by fraudsters, we need to consider what impact more time online has had on our students-particularly our most vulnerable.

Students have spent the vast majority of the last year online, being frequently plunged back into periods of self-isolation and online learning. With students starting the Easter holidays, where they will no doubt revert to spending multiple hours online, it seems a good time to remind ourselves of best practice within online safety.

The latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education makes clear that, “It is essential that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.” Whilst schools will use filters and monitoring systems to check students’ internet use whilst they are in school, it is almost impossible to know what students are doing at home. This is where teaching about online safety is of paramount importance. Do your students know about scam emails, password phishing and privacy settings? Over the Easter holidays, will they be able to avoid scams promising that their money will be quadrupled overnight?

Students also need to confidently know how online safety can affect their personal safety-do they know the key indicators of grooming behaviour? Do they know how to say “no” online, and to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable? Have your e-safety policies and procedures been updated to reflect that students are now spending much longer online?  As part of our safeguarding support service, we can audit your school’s safeguarding curriculum and policies, including regarding e-safety.

As we continue to teach these important aspects of the curriculum about online safety, both in computing and citizenship lessons, we need to be aware of the above topics being triggering. Perhaps your students feel horror struck by something they are taught about online safety, secretly feeling ashamed that they have let their guard down. Perhaps they are being actively groomed online and do not know how to tell anyone it. We therefore need to address these topics with sensitivity, creating a safe environment where students feel able to share their concerns and know they will not be mocked. Many of us adults will have been lulled into clicking onto a dodgy link or sharing personal details unwittingly-we now need to ensure that students are both given ongoing reminders about the potential harms and threats of the online world, whilst being supported to report any concerns they have.

Judicium offers a ‘critical friend’ service to school DSLs, helping to deal with crises, complex cases and when DSLs would like a fresh pair of eyes.

https://www.judiciumeducation.co.uk/safeguarding-service

SBS is delighted to announce a partnership with Judicium Education. Offering a 15% discount to all SBS clients, if you feel your DSL would benefit from extra support and trusted counsel, during these difficult times, please feel free to contact Georgina.

Georgina.decosta@judicium.com

07399185443 

Stay safe, stay well. And let’s all stay kind.