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Podcast | Season 1 | Episode 9: Keeping Children Safe Online

What role do schools play in protecting children online? Listen to advice and insights provided by Adam Medlycott (CEOP Education Officer, National Crime Agency) and Alison Watts (Chair e-Safety Safeguarding Board, Children’s Services, Buckinghamshire County Council).

Keeping Children Safe Online with Thinkuknow

  • Gain insight into children’s lives online
  • Learn about the evolving online threat, informed by National Crime Agency intelligence
  • Get access to resources, support and tools to help education professionals deliver online safety education

Implementing the E-safety Ambassador Programme in Schools

  • Involve young people in helping their peers on e-safety matters
  • Understand e-safety issues and positively influence online behaviours
  • Deliver e-safety message to schools
  • Advise young people and direct them to the right resources

These sessions were recorded live on 13th and 14th November 2019, in the Tech Theatre of the Schools & Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

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Adam Medlycott

Good afternoon, my name is Adam and I lead the CEOP Education Professional Development Program within the National Crime Agency. And hopefully, within 20 minutes, I'm going to give you a better insight into children's lives online and the evolving online threat that we see at NCA and to highlight the resources that you can be using to help keep children safe online. Normally, I would spend about two hours on this I'm going to try and condense into 20 minutes but hopefully they'll be something you can take away from today. So just to give you a bit of an insight into CEOP . So we are the Child Exploitation Online Protection Unit within the National Crime Agency, we're a multi disciplinary child protection agency. So we are comprised of law enforcement officers and child protection team made up of social workers, intelligence officers and education officers like myself. And this model really allows us to pursue perpetrators of child sexual exploitation and abuse, prevent people from being becoming involved and protect children from becoming victims and prepare interventions to try and reduce the impact. The child protection team are assigned to all of our operations. And so remit ensures that children are the focus of our work, and the support is put in place for them if they have made a report to us. So we know that young people are increasingly spending more time online. Over 50% of 3 to 4 year olds go on life nearly 9 hours a week, and this rises to 99% of 12 to 15 going online for 20 and a half hours a week. This is the latest OfCom statistics that were released this year. Statistics like these really show how important it is for us as professionals, and as parents and carers to be having those conversations from an early age, and to really focus on supporting them to stay safe online. I'm going to talk to you a little bit later about the resources that we have. I think you know, to help you to do this. Well, first, let's go into a little bit more detail into some of the most popular online activities with this age group, and the risks that we need to be aware of as well. So live streaming. So this is the live broadcast the videos over the internet, or you need to live stream as an internet enabled device and a platform to broadcast on. So examples of these I'm sure you probably heard of you now TikTok, Instagram Live, YouTube Live and Twitch. And also you can stream videos on there viewers can leave real time comments, or send virtual gifts such as emojis or prizes, even online currency. And live streaming is particularly appealing to children in private schools particularly that's of age groups, as it offers the opportunity for them to be a presenter to share their interests such as gaming, and to be seen by a potentially huge audience, lots of benefits of live streaming in terms of sharing their interests, but there are also risks as well. And children may not understand the risks of broadcasting to strangers because often they're doing it in the bedroom or in the bathroom even as well. They can receive lots of positive comments or compliments. And this can really help to make the child feel good. And primary children often have that need to please as well. offenders can exploit this and really can be using the power of comments to be encouraged them to be become involved in more sexualised games without the child often realising them. So they may use tactics such as flattery threats, dares or tricks, or they may post multiple comments to try and pressurise the young person to do inappropriate things.

Adam Medlycott

In terms of what we need to be doing is we really need to be focusing on helping them to understand the sort of tactics that might be used on those platforms. And also to know who to go to if they ever come across this sort of thing. So making sure that they're aware of the trusted adult that might be so that might be a parent, it might be yourselves as an education professional, or somebody else they're close to in their life. Gaming, Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox I'm sure you've heard of all those games that children talking about in the playground? Multiplayer online gaming is really popular with all ages, and has a strong social element. A lot of these platforms have chat forums built into them. And offenders can be using these these platforms to be harming young people. It can seem quite normal to be talking to adults in this sort of game because they're showing the same experiences and maybe the adult might be helping them and again, offenders could be using that as an exploitative tactic. So then to do that there might be a take on a mentor sort of role within the game. Again, they might be using gifts to encourage children to trust them, and might be asking them to move to a more private platform. And this is where we really see the risk where children are be moved from these public platforms into a private platform. And again, education, we need to be helping them to understand what these tactics might look like, and known what to do they ever come across this and talking to them about the importance of remaining in a public space. As most young people spend an extended amount of time online, it's only natural as they grow, they will start to explore relationships and sex online as well. And this can be a positive experience if it's done safely and done consensually. But it can also expose them to risks, particularly around sharing of images. So children can take and share photos or videos of themselves. And this might be done without with consent or without consent as well. There might be a number of different motivations for taking what we call a nude selfie, or to think, you know, or some people might see it as called sexting, we prefer the term nude selfie, or a naked or semi naked image. And they might be doing it to flirt. Particularly for younger children, they might be doing it just as a joke, because they see it as quite funny to take a picture of themselves. And they might be doing it as a part of an ongoing consensual relationship. Or they could be doing it because they've been coerced into doing so through manipulation and blackmail. And when the images are shared wider than intended, there are a number of different risks for the young person. The biggest risk, maybe that they feel is the social risk, the the bullying that could come of sharing an image and being humiliated. But there are other risks as well. The educational risks, they may feel they can no longer go school, they may need to move school and it can affect their academic performance. And then also the abuse, height and abuse risks as well. So if a child has their image shared online, they're more vulnerable to groom in, and further abuse and exploitation. And most importantly, the legal risks it is illegal to take an image of a person under the age of 18. Depending on the situation, the context, it will depend on whether criminal action is taken. It's very difficult to try and cover that today because I could spend again spend quite a number of minutes talking about that. But what I would recommend if you're not already aware of the sexting in schools and colleges guidance, this has been developed by the UK Council for Internet Safety, it's also referencing keeping children safe in education. And this really helps schools, colleges and other organisations as well to know how to respond to an incident depending on those different motivations and the context behind an image and when to escalate it to law enforcement and social services. If you are faced with an image that has been a result of abuse and exploitation or blackmail, Then follow your safeguarding procedures obviously, and report it to local law enforcement. Children can report to us at see up and I'll talk a little bit more detail about our safety center. And they can also report the image to ChildLine as well.

Adam Medlycott

So I think you know education program. Our education program aims to empower and protect children, young people from sexual abuse and exploitation. We tried to go beyond the traditional online safety education to involve include broader topics around relationships, sex, and the internet. As Internet, as I've already mentioned, plays a critical role in their exploration of relationships as they grow. Therefore, it's important that they are provided with the knowledge and skills to navigate their online exploration of these issues in the safest way possible. Our program is free offers free resources from the ages of 4 to 18. We also have resources for SEND and we're looking to develop those at the moment as well so we're really keen to hear from you education professionals working in those settings. And we also have resources for parents and carers. So for our 4-10s it's very much based around our two animated series. 'Jessie and Friends' for 4-7s, and 'Play Like Share' for 8-10s. 'Jessie and Friends' is our newest resource. And they really explore the online activities that we found most popular with this age group. So with all of our resources, they're informed by our own intelligence that we receive at the National Crime Agency, through academic research. And most importantly, by directly engaging with children, young people go into schools and finding out what they are doing online. And those conversations are really important to be having. So we have 'Jessie and Friends' and 'Play Like Share'. These include session plans and guidance within there to help you to deliver it in the safest way possible. It explores those manipulative tactics that we've discussed already, and how to respond safely to them and where to go for the support helping them to identify that trusted adults. Fo 11-18s, we have our range of films on our websites as well. And this is from exploited, we're actually in the process of developing further resources for this age group. And we have the thinkuknow toolkit as well, which includes a number of activities to help them to explore the thinking on website. We also have a package called hashtag life skills famous focused on the tactics used on those platforms, and also includes guidance and support on how to allow children to develop the self esteem and confidence often children on those platforms have low self esteem and self confidence as well. And that's where offenders tries to exploit that. And our resource within hashtag life skills helps to explore that as well. That resource goes from the ages 8 up to 18 because as I say, we see this being used with primary age children.

Adam Medlycott

We are also In the process of developing a resource around image sharing, and which we're hoping to be released that begin to 2020, also around harmful sexual behaviors. So there'll be around 15 lessons around that, again, for this sort of year 8 to year 9s, and an online blackmail resource has been developed in response to a recent operation, where we found that a number of financially vulnerable females aged around 16 to 18, were being exploited through sugar daddy websites. And so that again, we're hoping to release in early 2020. As I've mentioned, we have thinkuknow websites for 11 to 18. And these include a bank of articles helping them to explore relationship and sex and consent and the legal aspects of consent as well and directing them to further sort of sources of support, including ourselves. We also have a website for professionals where you can register for free to download of all of our resources and you can find out more about our training opportunities on there as well. For parents, we have a separate website, again, containing articles helping them to support their child if there have been a victim of sexual abuse and exploitation online, but also around the more sort of general having a conversation with your child, helping them to understand some of the risks of the different platforms that child might be using and how they can support their child and talk to their child about that. Also, we have parent info, which we developed in collaboration with ParentZone which you will find here today. Parent info is a free service that you can have embedded into your organisation's website. It contains a number of different articles with a much broader remit than ourselves that see up it covers everything on how parents can navigate the online world from health and relationships well being gaming and it's very simple to have that embedded into your website and you can pick and choose what articles you want to share with parents. They can access it through your websites. The safety sense that we have set up is is really important. So very important part of our program. We really want to encourage you to make children young people aware that they can report to see if they're a victim of online sexual abuse. So reports of abuse can be made by children through our Safety Center is primarily aimed at children who did not have a trusted adult that they can go to, or they're scared of reporting to the police and they need that immediate support and advice. The form that they use to report is designed using child friendly language is very simple to use. Then that report is then risk assessed by one of our child protection team and based on a range of different factors from the type of crime, their age and a threat to life, and then plan how to help the child and young person to stay safe and will engage with other organisations where necessary, such as local law enforcement, social services, or yourselves between schools.

Adam Medlycott

Professionals and education professionals we discourage you from reporting to us through this this route, because as long as you're following your safeguarding procedures, if you then do escalate it to local law enforcement, you're following the correct process when an incident like that occurs, if you report it to us, it will then just be filtered back down to local law enforcement anyway. So as long as you're following your safeguarding procedures, you're doing the right thing with that it's very much for children as a last resort for them if they feel like they've got no one to go to. This has been very much a whistle stop tour, and I would love to go into a lot more detail. But do get in touch with us. If you'd like any further information about our education program, or our training opportunities, you can sign up for free on our website. Thank you.

Alison Watts

To see all the safety in schools and colleges, and I go into schools and I talk to children and I talk to parents and I train staff. So I'm CIOP trained and that all gets put into the work that I do with children. so we're going to talk about embedding ambassadors into your school, and how easy it is to do that, and how it can help you with engaging everybody in your school around topics, including internet safety. So in true teacher style, give the definition of the word. So what is an ambassador and it's somebody who's going to go around, and really represent and promote that internet safety within your school. And we always say, you know, it's really good to have ambassadors talking about a subject to their peers and their friends, and also engaging parents. So we always find it useful. Because the students go out there and then they talk to their parents about what they're doing. And then the parents get engaged with that topic as well.

Alison Watts

So why have ambassadors I have schools that have ambassadors in every single topic that they can think. So they have children counselors, they have health and safety ambassadors, they have everything that you can imagine they've got somebody representing it from the children's side. And that's because it's a great link between the teacher and what's going on in school, you get parents engaged, if you've got children doing presentations around a topic, parents will come and watch it more than they will come and watch me or another teacher delivering the same presentation. Children also have a different way of explaining things. So they love talking about what they're doing. So when I asked them what they're doing online, they actually love telling me what they're doing. So you get the inside information from them. And you get an understanding of the problems that are happening within the school as well, because they tend to give lots of examples of well that's happening to so and so. And this is how I can now help them. So it's having that really good link between staff and students, it gets the whole school involved. So when I'm delivering training, it's lots of different things that we're talking about. So not only is it the risks about being online, but as we all know that technology is part of their life, is that what they growing up with? So it's not just talking about the risks, it's talking about the positives, and the impact of those positives on their lives as well. It's showing them where they can go for help if something is wrong, and giving them that confidence to actually tell somebody else what they can do if something goes wrong, and to support people in their school. I have year sixes who have been trained as an ambassador, standing in front of the whole school doing presentations to younger year groups, and they love being part of it. They love to have that responsibility to be able to do something that they know about because they do know all about this technology, and they are very confident talking about it. And so to actually have them stood up and saying to the younger year groups, how they can be supported, is really good for their confidence.

Alison Watts

So supporting the whole school in e-safety campaign, getting the ambassadors to make posters to put around the school or getting ambassadors to actually be in the playground to support younger year groups. So one of my schools has a rota for lunch times where two ambassadors will be in the playground and all the rest of the school know that they are there to go and talk to, if somebody is feeling a bit unsure about what's happening to them online, and then those ambassadors will actually support them to go and talk to a teacher or the safeguarding lead in that school. So they really help support the whole school. So this is one of the questions that I asked put to teachers and the students that come to become an ambassador. And it's what makes a good ambassador. Why do you want to be an ambassador? And some of the answers are quite varied. But these are the ones that they normally come up with. And it's about having sensitivity to the topic, understanding that things do go wrong when you're online, and that sometimes it gets a bit out of control, but there's something that you can do about it, having the ability to listen. Now, some students that's quite difficult because it's all about them sometimes, and they want to talk about what they're doing, but actually getting them to sit back and listen to other people. So that's a really good skill to get, you know, increase their confidence.

Alison Watts

The ability to ask for advice and guidance. Now, that's quite a big one, especially in primary age, because going to a teacher can be quite daunting. And even my 14 year old still finds it daunting to go and ask for help from a teacher. they'd much rather go to somebody of their own age, and then have that support to go and talk to somebody. So being able to ask for advice is really important having the understanding that they're not going to know all the answers. So even though they've been on the ambassador course, they don't know all the answers and getting them to understand that and saying, it's okay. If you say to somebody who's asking a question that you don't know, and actually you can go and find help from someone else, and not being judgmental, that's quite a big one, especially in secondary schools, I find, and especially with girls, because they can be very judgmental about some things that their friends are doing. And so getting them to understand that actually, things go wrong from time to time. And, you know, people might do silly things, but just don't judge them for it. And that's really important message. I've devised to Ambassador programs for our schools, the junior one for primary schools is a 4 hour program. And it covers lots of different topics. So every student gets a booklet, we tend to do it in one 4hour session, but we have split it over two mornings, if that suits the school better. And so it's really simple. So they just work through the booklet and it covers all of the topics. So it covers like I say, the role about the ambassador, what's needed as an ambassador about their online behavior. We talk a lot about what they do online, what kind of apps they go into their digital footprint, what are they putting out there? How does it affect their life in the future, and the apps that they're playing or the games that they're playing, we talk in great detail about the people that they're talking to in those games, about whether they know those people or not cyberbullying, we do lots of activities using masks around cyberbullying about how easy it is to talk to somebody in a different way online than it is face to face. So we do roleplay around that getting them to speak to somebody with a mask on so that they can't see their reaction and then say the same thing with the mask off, so that they can see the two different ways that that person might react.

Alison Watts

We talk about strangers online, and that Stranger Danger not knowing who you're talking to. And certainly not going to think about meeting them by yourself, where you can go for help, and then top tips around every single topic. Now I normally do a quiz with them. And with parents and with teachers, which I haven't got today, because it links to lots of videos and things but basically, my biggest message to teachers and parents and students doesn't matter what app you're using, whether you're using gaming or Instagram or Snapchat, the top tips remain the same. So actually, the ambassador program has longevity because you can apply it to whatever they're using at that time. And because it's around discussion, and a lot of this is around discussion, then those top tips apply throughout. So then there's a senior program for secondary schools as well. And that goes into a lot more depth around relationships because all their relationships now start online. So it talks about and grooming about the different grooming stages, but it also talks about critical thinking about what they're looking at online, including body image, so and self esteem issues, mental health issues, things like that, but they are now thinking about as they're getting into secondary school. We also go into a lot more depth around child protection and safeguarding so we get the safeguarding lead for the school involved as well. Well in this and who they can go to for help, but also, because they're that much older somebody might actually disclose something to them. So we teach them about handling disclosures how they can deal with that and about the appropriate path that they should take going to the safeguarding lead with that, and the fact that they shouldn't take it all on themselves to find a solution. This is about a partnership with the teachers in the school. And that shouldn't all be down to them. If somebody comes to them with a problem, they need to go and talk to the safeguarding lead just as any teacher word as well. So with the senior topics, again, we talk about the role of the ambassador within the school, but also a lot around relationships and behaviors around relationships, about their digital footprints, how's that going to affect their university applications and their job applications? How can what they put online affects that, we go into a lot of detail around grooming, and being able to find people online and how easy it is to find people online, around location settings around how groups of boys in my schools at the moment, tend to use snap maps to find where the good looking girls are in town. So things like that, that they may not be aware of that, you know, people might be using the internet for, again, they all get a workbook, it's a lot more detailed, and they have to write a lot more because actually, this one ends up in a QA. So they get something at the end of it, so it goes towards a qualification for them. And this has been accredited. So they get to do all of this. So we normally do this over 6 sessions. And at the end, they have to create their own presentation. So I normally have a group of about 16 students in these groups and we split them into 4 and each group will do a presentation on a different topic. So whether that's cyber bullying, gaming, or grooming, and then they go away for a week, put together their own presentation, and then come back and have to present it to teachers. So then they can then go and present it in assemblies as well or PHSE classes. I've also had schools where they've taken the ambassadors into the primary schools in the area, and actually got the ambassadors to talk to primary children, so that they're doing that peer to peer and help.


Alison Watts

The type of children that you have, you know, your children best, and it's not for me to say who you think would make a good ambassador. I have had classes where they've taken the best students to become ambassadors. And I've had classes where they've taken people that they think are vulnerable to online grooming or cyberbullying and made them ambassadors to try and help them understand what their life online is doing and how it affects them. But also, then they can relate it to other people. They've both worked in different ways.

Alison Watts

I can't say which one's better. They've both had their advantages. So it's really down to knowing your children as to who you would recommend, to be an ambassador. If you develop your own ambassador program. That's absolutely great. I would say keep it engaging. So I incorporate lots of different things. So like I say, I put quizzes in there. I have visited videos, and I tend to keep it up to date with the latest news. So here's a snapshot of one of my quizzes that I do at the moment. And you can see we've got anybody know who she is? Yes, Little Mi. So that's Jesy Nelson, who's recently brought out the video about being cyber bullied. So it's all about what they're doing online. So Tom Holland, really good on Instagram, putting his foot in it putting videos out there and giving secrets of the films away. And so loads of different people that they're looking at online and different apps that they're using and making it very interactive.

Alison Watts

For younger people. Word searches always go down a treat lots of different activities. So like I say, creating posters for schools is a really good activity for them as well. So keeping it up to date and using current example. So by talking to the people that you're training, you then get to keep it up to date because you hear about what apps they're using and about what they're doing who they're following online. And so it's really easy to keep it current. And never underestimate the power of a certificate, a badge or a sticker. Because actually kids love all of that. They love receipt. Something so at the end of the ambassador programs, they get a certificate or an AQA certificate if they're older, and they get a pin badge to wear around so people know who they are. And we make a big deal. We do a big presentation in assembly so that the whole school know who they are. Has anybody got any questions that they would like to ask? I know we've rattled through it. I do have the programs with me if anybody would like to take a look at them afterwards.

Claire (Audience Member)

Thank you. Hello, I'm Claire. Just with regards to how quickly social media moves on and changes and online gaming and lots of new games being developed. How do you keep on top of the fast changes in all of those things?

Alison Watts

It really is just talking to the children about what they're doing, because they're the ones that are doing it. So I know, just by having a chat with a class, what the games or apps that they using what problems they're coming across. I keep up to date with CEOP. So and they're always sending updates at the NSPCC have a really good and weekly update that they send out about current issues and the ParentZone also do that. So I'm always getting updates from those guys. But yeah, just talking to the children is a really good way they love talking about what they're doing. Well, thank you very much.


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