Myth vs Reality - New toolkit from Childnet

Childnet launches new resources to support young people as only 15% of 11-14s say they know where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships.

Children’s charity Childnet launch new resources to address online pornography, healthy relationships and body image online.

Brand new resources have been launched by children’s charity Childnet, as part of its work in the UK Safer Internet Centre. The ‘Myth vs Reality’ toolkit covers the issues of pornography, healthy relationships and body image and is designed to be used with young people aged 11-14.

Whilst 80% of 11-14s surveyed by Childnet said it was important or extremely important for young people to discuss the issues related to online pornography, only 15% said they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships. After taking part in the activities, 77% of those surveyed felt they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships.

Following on from the huge success of the ‘Crossing the Line’ toolkit launched in 2016, which covered the issues of sexting, peer pressure, cyberbullying and self-esteem, this new toolkit includes a range of videos, quick activities and adaptable lesson plans based on the real experiences of young people.

The toolkit was created following focus groups conducted in five schools across the UK, where young people expressed the need for education about the portrayal of gender, bodies and relationships online with a particular need for education about the reality of online pornography.

One boy aged between 11 -13 in a focus group stated that: “the less educated people are about sex and relationships the more they are going to try and look for it.”

With Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) becoming statutory in all schools from September 2020, these resources provide schools with much needed practical, thoughtful and helpful resources to support them in teaching RSE. It also comes as the UK prepares to be the first country in the world to implement an age-verification system for online pornography.

The toolkit has been tested in seven schools across the UK where both teachers and pupils tried out the resources and provided feedback about the impact it had had in their school.

Research was conducted with young people aged 11-14 before they completed the toolkit, providing over 600 responses:

  • 80% said it was important or extremely important for young people to discuss the issues related to online pornography, but only 15% said they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships
  • Only 23 % said that they could recognise the difference between what is considered the ‘ideal’ body image online and the reality of a realistic and healthy body
  • Only 23% said that they knew what makes a healthy relationship online
  • After taking part in the activities in the toolkit, young people aged 11-14 reported on the impact that it had, with over 450 responses. Schools saw an increase in confidence and knowledge of the issues in the toolkit:

  • 90% said they now felt confident in supporting themselves and others with the issues related to online pornography
  • 77% said they know where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships
  • 69% said the lessons made them feel more confident in supporting my friends online when it came to issues around body image
  • 59% felt confident in supporting themselves and others with unhealthy relationships online
  • Will Gardner OBE, CEO of Childnet and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said:
    “The issues that affect young people online are changing and are complex. It is vital that all young people are given the opportunity to discuss the pressures they face online, and develop the skills to spot and understand the gap between perception and reality.

    We have created this toolkit to support and empower educators in exploring these challenging and often interrelating topics with confidence, and to allow them to help their pupils develop the strategies they need to navigate the online world. It’s clear from those schools who have taken part that these resources are much needed and can have a real impact on the lives of young people.”

    One secondary school teacher from Gravesend said:
    “The pupils loved the lessons and one year 9 class asked me when the next lesson was. When I said it was a one-off they said 'we need more lessons like this'. (…) Thank you so much for asking us to be part of the trial - I also learnt a lot."

    A year 9 pupil commenting on the healthy relationships activities said that: "This lesson helps people who are silently struggling. I learnt about how communication, respect, trust and boundaries are key."

    Another young person said, “I learnt what [pornography is] about and where I could go if I needed to talk about it or needed help and that you don't need to look a certain way for other people."

    For more information on how the toolkit can be used in education settings read this piece on ‘How teachers can use the ‘Myth vs Reality’ toolkit’

    Written by Childnet International on May 02, 2019 12:25

    GDPR: One Year On - FREE Refresher Training

    Free Data Protection (GDPR) refresher training for Safeguarding Essentials members Click here to find out more and register


    GDPRThis time last year, there was one word (or should I say acronym) that was never far from the conversation - GDPR!

    We all had the date firmly embedded in our minds and we all received training on how the 25th May changes would affect us.

    The DfE issued a Data Protection for Schools Toolkit, highlighting guidance in the form of nine steps schools could take to efficiently develop the culture, processes and documentation required to be compliant with the strengthened legislation to effectively manage the risks associated with data management. This nine-step guide is still available in the form of a 103-page document.

    So, one year on, is GDPR done and dusted?

    The definite answer to that is no. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) law came into force during 2018 along with the updated Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). But what is the difference between GDPR and Data Protection?

    GDPR is the new European law that is the change of a generation. It defines the data subject as the ultimate owner of their personal data, with specific rights, and any organisation, public or private, which processes personal data must have a legal basis to do so.

    In addition to this, each country was required to create a local law to ratify the exemptions allowed for their industries and culture. In the UK, this is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018.

    Many schools just use the term "data protection" as this is a common title to both laws.

    During the early part of 2018, schools took the opportunity to train staff on the changes that were then about to take place. However, 12 months on, many staff members are now due to have that training refreshed.

    TrainingSchoolz, a sister company of Safeguarding Essentials, is helping schools manage their refresher training by offering free Data Protection/GDPR online training to all Safeguarding Free, Safeguarding Essentials and E-safety Support members for a limited time. Offer ends Easter!

    Schools can register to take the GDPR training and invite up to 300 of their peers to take the course for free as well have access to the simple-to-use yet powerful platform developed specifically for the education sector. Click here to find out more and register or call 0113 360 7838 for further information.


    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on April 04, 2019 10:45

    Step Up, Speak Up campaign launches

    Children’s charity call on all to ‘Step Up, Speak Up’ to end sexual harassment online

    Step Up Speak Up LogoNew educational resources, ‘Step Up, Speak Up!’ have been published by children’s charity Childnet as part of a Europe-wide project to tackle online sexual harassment carried out by young people.

    Defined as ‘unwanted sexual conduct on any online platform’, online sexual harassment amongst young people has been an increasingly present issue in schools and local communities.

    These freely available resources will aim to:

  • Support all schools, youth groups and education settings across the UK to tackle online sexual harassment
  • Increase awareness and understanding on peer-on-peer online sexual harassment
  • Address responses to those targeted, including tackling victim-blaming culture
  • Call on young people to report if they see it happening online
  • Support teachers and other professionals such as police, to effectively prevent and respond to this issue.

    The resources are launched at a moment when government policy is looking to address the online issues young people are facing, with the upcoming DCMS and Home Office Online Harms White Paper soon to be published. The Department of Education has also released its statutory guidance on Relationship and Sex Education which will be mandatory for all schools from September 2020.

    Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, and coordinator of Project deSHAME said:
    “Digital technology plays a central role in young people’s lives but it has opened the door for a range of new forms of sexual harassment, making education about these issues more crucial than ever. We have been working collaboratively with children and young people, teachers and law enforcement, as well as industry to develop effective preventative programmes and to inform more effective responses to this issue.

    We know that technology has a positive and central part to play in young people’s lives, and we know that they feel passionately about being part of the solution. That’s why we are calling on everyone to ‘Step Up and Speak Up' when they see sexual harassment happening online.”M/i>

    Why have these resources been created?
    Amidst growing concerns of sexual harassment in schools, research conducted with 1,559 UK teens found alarming prevalence of young people targeting their peers with online sexual harassment.

  • Over half of UK respondents aged 13-17 years (51%) said they have witnessed people their age circulating nude or nearly nude images of someone they know, also referred to as ‘revenge porn’.
  • 2 in 5 (39%) have witnessed people setting up a ‘bait out’ page or group for people in their school to share sexual gossip or images.
  • 1 in 10 have received sexual threats online, including rape threats, from people their age in the last year.
  • Almost a quarter of UK teens (23%) have witnessed young people secretly taking sexual images of someone and sharing them online, also referred to as ‘creep shots’ or ‘upskirting’.
  • 23% of UK respondents aged 13-17 years have received unwanted sexual messages and images in the last year, with girls being significantly more likely to experience this (31%) compared to boys (11%).
  • As one girl aged 17 commented:
    "[We need to learn what] 'sexual harassment’ really is – in regard to being online. Everyone gets comments about being ‘hot’ and what would be classed as sexual comments, but no one really knows where the limit is; no one is aware of what classes as harassment – comments, photos – revolving around sexualising bodies. Then once we can identify it, we can then be taught how to deal with it."

    Development of ‘Step Up Speak Up! Toolkit’ with young people, teachers and professionals
    Using the findings of quantitative and qualitative research, and working alongside both young people and educators, the resources will give young people the opportunity to explore their own attitudes and opinions, and to discuss ways to challenge unacceptable online behaviour. The reporting process is a key theme that runs throughout the toolkit, and the different reporting options are explored and clarified. Opportunities for adaptation and extension are provided for all activities, plus additional information for educators to understand the background of the issues at hand, and guidance on discussing these with students. The toolkit includes:

  • 4 lesson plans covering ground rules, understanding, responding and reporting peer-based online sexual harassment.
  • A teacher toolkit to support educators delivering the lesson plans.
  • Films aimed at raising awareness amongst young people and those supporting them.
  • Poster to signpost to further support in educational settings.
  • Assembly presentation (with scripted guidance).
  • Peer-led workshop plan for young people to deliver themselves.
  • Supporting guidance for educators and law enforcement:

  • Senior Management Handbook for school leadership team on how to prevent and respond to this issue.
  • Guidance on supporting children who display harmful sexual behaviour online.
  • Web-based learning modules for teachers to help them understand the issue.
  • Guidance for police on handling victims and perpetrators, including materials they can use with members of the public.
  • Significant impact on young people
    The project has piloted the resources with schools in the UK with the following findings, which can be found in full at www.deshame.eu:

  • 86% of 13-17s who participated in the activities said they were confident in recognising online sexual harassment if they saw it.
  • 83% said they know how and where they can report online sexual harassment.
  • 73% said it made them understand why consent online is important.
  • 64% said they would feel more confident making a report outside of school (i.e. social media, parents/carers, police).
  • As one boy aged 14-15 years said:
    “I like these lessons because…this is important, this is real life, people do go through these sorts of issues and there are many other subjects and issues like this that don’t get addressed. The more that people get into the real world and they’ll be like ‘oh no I never learnt about this…’”Step Up Speak Up Banner

    Written by Childnet International on March 21, 2019 12:58


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