What do children really know about grooming?

Former Labour Attorney General Lord Morris of Aberavon announced that 27 police forces are currently investigating 54 alleged gangs involved in child grooming, in England and Wales - the crackdown on grooming follows the recent convictions of the sex abuse ring in the Oxford area.

Former deputy high court judge and independent crossbencher Lord Elystan-Morgan suggested that law enforcement agencies should be ‘prepared to adopt more robust tactics, including infiltration and surveillance’. Lord Taylor reassuringly stated that ‘the government is determined the system should work, the system needs to work, to protect these vulnerable children.’

Issues of grooming, especially over the internet, are becoming increasingly more of an issue. In 2012 1,145 online abuse cases were reported to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

Online sexual abuse is often conducted through instant messenger applications, social networking sites and webcams. In some cases reported, offenders hacked into victims’ accounts and refused to give their accounts back unless the child did what the abuser told them to do; demands then became more frequent, making the child feel trapped in a cycle. The offender may then ask to meet the victims in person, and the cycle will continue to spiral out of control.

Law enforcement authorities have said they rely upon victims reporting these issues, but many children, without being educated on what grooming is, may not realise what is happening at first, they may then feel stuck, helpless and not understand what actions to take.

As more and more children are gaining unsupervised access to the internet (through the assortment of devices which now offer web access), the issue of grooming could potentially escalate, and with no one there to safeguard them, they need to be taught how to safeguard themselves.

Here at E-safety Support we recognise the seriousness of the issue and how important it is that all children who use the internet understand that grooming happens so frequently. The ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude is also an issue to address as well as the worrying reality that grooming is not restricted to strangers, but can also be from someone in a position of trust. Children need to be educated, in school and at home, on what grooming is, how to avoid falling victim to it (both online and offline), and what to do if they ever encounter grooming attempts. Teaching children this information will reinforce understanding and awareness of grooming and inappropriate contact and help them to avoid dangerous situations.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on June 18, 2013 13:55

Should pupils have lessons about online dangers?

It was widely reported yesterday that the government have stated that the ‘draft curriculum for primary schools in England will, for the first time, include lessons on how to stay safe online.’ This announcement comes amid fresh concerns that explicit online materials are too easily accessible for young children.

Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of The Sex Education Forum, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast that young people should become able to be critical consumers of media. They should learn what is appropriate and inappropriate for themselves and be very clear about what’s legal, illegal, violent and not violent. ‘Young people are quite confused about what consent is, and about what consent isn’t.’

In April, The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) passed a resolution that schools must give lessons on the dangers of pornography. And now, just weeks later, The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) found in a survey that 40% of parents think schools should teach pupils as young as five about the dangers of pornography on the internet.

The NAHT said the issue was troubling to teachers as they grapple with the impact of pornography on pupils' self-image and perceptions of sexuality. Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, stressed that: ‘young people need to know how to cope with and avoid the distorted views of relationships that are displayed in pornography.’

Ofsted have also decided that secondary school pupils need more education on the subjects of pornography, relationships, sexuality and staying safe. They suggested that many schools were failing to give pupils enough information regarding sex and relationships, which could leave children open to inappropriate behavior or exploitation.

This controversial topic is never far from the news and very often divides opinion of who should be responsible for the welfare of our children when they are online – is it the parents or schools who should take the lead? In our opinion, it’s both. But what we mustn’t forget is that e-safety is not just about stumbling across an inappropriate website or finding an unsuitable video on YouTube, it’s much more than that. Ultimately, we must teach our children how to act responsibly and safely online as we would in any other situation.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 21, 2013 15:25

What you need to know - privacy

Teachers need to become experts in offering age-appropriate advice and guidance to their classes, and parents, with regard to the following areas:

  • Unwanted internet contact

  • Inappropriate internet content

  • Privacy

  • Mobile phones and devices

In the case of privacy, teachers need to be aware of:

  • How to ensure social networking content stays private and doesn’t end up in search results years later.

  • How to ensure passwords are strong, password-protected information, such as banking details or parental online shopping details remain safe.

  • How to prevent and deal with junk mail and spam, and also how to spot internet scams and ‘phishing’ emails and messages.

  • How websites store and track data which might be used for valid marketing reasons, or abused to create spam or facilitate identity theft.

For advice in the other 3 areas download this term's report What every teacher needs to know about E-safety, available free to Bronze members.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on April 24, 2013 13:42

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