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The world of the internet can be dangerous if it is not used safely.

Carole Preston, the Stoke-on-Trent Safeguarding Children Board Manager, highlights some of the dangers of the internet and urges parents to be vigilant when their children are on-line.  For further information, advice and support visit the Government’s CEOPS website (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) where there is lots of useful information for you, and provides you with a way to report what is happening to you .The link is

Briefing Note - Police action in response to youth produced sexual imagery (Sexting) (Click on the link)

Helping your child to stay safe online
BEING online and using the internet can feel just like being in the real world – your child can chat to people, play games and share pictures.

There are some great people on the internet, but there are also some people who use the internet for the wrong reasons. Some people pretend to be much younger than they really are in order to talk to children and make friends with them. They might start off by being nice, but then say nasty things, or start talking about things that make children feel uncomfortable or out of their depth, or they may even ask children to do things they do not want to do.

This is not acceptable. If this is happening to your child or to someone they know – please tell someone. Here is some advice you can pass on to your children:

How can you keep safe on the internet?
When you are chatting online, avoid giving personal details that could help a stranger to find you.
Do not tell people your last name, the name of your school, or where you live and hang out.

Protect your information.
Check to see if the site has a friends list that lets you control who can see the information on your profile or blog. Only accept people you know and trust as friends. If you do not use these privacy settings, anyone can see your details.

Never arrange to meet up with people.

Never get together with someone you meet online, in a chat room or on a blog if you have never met them in “the real world” You do not know who they really are and people can pretend to be anyone and any age online.

Think before you put any pictures online.

What is uploaded to the internet can be downloaded by anyone and passed around or posted online pretty much forever. Avoid posting photos that allow people to identify you. Avoid posting images of yourself which are suggestive. Think about how you would feel if it were seen by your family or friends. If you would not want any of those people to see this photo – then don’t put it on the internet for the world to see.

  • Check comments on your profile regularly.
  • Do not respond to mean or embarrassing comments. If possible, block out any offensive people from commenting further.
  • Be honest about your age.
  • Talk to your parents about sites that will be suitable to your age group.

How to report concerns.
If someone you are talking to online says something that makes you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, or if they ask you to do things you do not want to do, you must do something about it.
If this happens, you must remember that it is not your fault.

  • Always tell another adult you feel you can trust.
  • Save any messages that have upset you so that you can show the person who you tell. If you don’t feel that you can tell an adult, there are other people that can help you.

You can follow the link to the ChildLine website where you can access advice and support

Parents can also get information and advice from 

Children can contact national helplines:

  • NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000
  • ChildLine: 0800 1111
  • In an emergency you can dial 999 and ask for the police.

What is cyberbullying (Bullying online)?

Taken from The Department of Education report 'Preventing and Tackling Bullying'
'The rapid development of, and widespread access to, technology has provided a new medium for ‘virtual’ bullying, which can occur in or outside school. Cyber-bullying is a different form of bullying which can happen 24/7, with a potentially bigger audience, and more accessories as people forward on content at a click.'

38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying.

Young people's voices on cyber-bullying: what can age comparisons tell us?

The Department for Education definition: ‘The use of Information and Communications Technology, particularly mobile phones and the internet, deliberately to upset someone else. Upsetting’ someone can take a variety of forms. It can involve threatening, distressing or humiliating a target, and, as such, encompasses a wide range of behaviours’

In many cases, children do not consider particular acts of behaviour to be cyberbullying. For example, saying hurtful things or passing on images are not seen as bullying [by some children], because they happen in cyberspace as opposed to face-to-face.

This is often compounded by the impersonal nature of online communications. People do not have the benefit of seeing subtle cues and body language that occur with regular human interactions. This can create an intention gap: the victim can interpret what is perceived as a joke by the perpetrator differently. Thus, the definition of cyberbullying must consider and focus on the intensity and harm caused.

The following categories are considered as cyberbullying:

  • Sending threatening or discomforting text message to a mobile phone
  • Making silent, hoax or abusive call to mobile phones
  • Making and sharing embarrassing images or videos via mobile phone or website
  • Broadcasting unsuitable web cam footage that is threatening or manipulative
  • Leaving hurtful messages on social networking sites or sending the same message to that person’s peer group
  • ‘Outing’ people by publishing or disseminating confidential information online
  • Stealing an online identity in order to cause trouble in that person’s name
  • Deliberately excluding people from online games or groups
  • Setting up hate sites or hate groups against an individual
  • Sending menacing or upsetting responses in chat rooms, online games, or messenger ‘real time’ conversations
  • Voting for someone in an insulting online poll
  • Sending someone ‘sexts’ that try to pressure them into sexual acts

Some of these behaviours or activities are illegal. A person involved could be investigated by the police and prosecuted.

Procedures for preventing cyberbullying

Mobile phones - All UK mobile phone providers have call centres and or procedures in place to deal with issues around bullying. You will find the relevant numbers to call from the child’s or your own mobile phone provider, generally under a section on tackling bullying and/or advice for parents. You can advise that it may be possible to get the child’s number changed via their mobile phone provider if they are being bullied. Also, if a certain type of handset is being used then it may be possible to set the phone so that it does not receive phone calls or text messages from a particular number.

Social networking sites - Social networking sites like Facebook have reporting procedures and a safety centre which contains advice for children, young people, parents and professionals. They will remove content that breaches their terms and conditions. Facebook also operates something called ‘social reporting’ this encourages people to work with others in their community to report offensive content as well as reporting it ‘officially’ through Facebook. It is important to remember that the official age for having a Facebook account is 13. However, as it stands, it is quite easy for a young person to set up an account if they are underage by giving a false date of birth.

Video and picture hosting sites - For such hosting sites including ‘YouTube’ where there are moving images or static pictures posted that are of a bullying nature you can also report them in the same way you do through social networking sites. Before you report things you may have to create an account if you don’t already have one and when you do make a report it’s important to remember that you need to flag things that are deemed inappropriate in the web sites respective policy.

Instant messaging and chat rooms - Instant messenger sites such as BBM, MSN, Facebook and Twitter are popular methods of communication for young people but can leave them open to being the victim of cyberbullying or sending messages themselves to others that could be seen to be offensive and upsetting. It’s important that if bullying has occurred in this context that all messages are recorded and archived so that if a report needs to be made or evidence needs to be saved then there is a clear record. As with other online services, reports can be made that breach the terms of service

If someone’s tries to send naked images youngsters can use the images on Zipit to keep the situation in control.  Zipit helps to get flirty chat back on the right track. It's packed with killer comebacks and top tips to help teenagers stay in control of the chat game.

Users can:-

  • Save images onto their device and share them with friends.
  • Share images on Facebook, Twitter, BBM or via email.
  • Find out how to deal with a sexting crisis. 
  • Get advice on how to flirt without failing.
  • Call ChildLine or save the number to a mobile phone.
  • Images can also be shared from Zipit through other apps like Whatsapp or Instagram, depending on the type of phone and what apps are downloaded.

Zipit is free to download, but if images are sent as a text with a picture (through MMS or Multimedia Message Service) there will be a charge by your mobile provider.

Please click the following link to find out more. 

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