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So much of young people’s lives are online these days and it can be tricky to keep up with new technologies, apps and games. A lot of people working with children will know that despite the technology the behaviours are the same; however that doesn’t make it any easier when a group of young people are complaining of a safety concern and you haven’t an idea what Kik, ooVoo or Snapchat do! Sometimes you need that extra context to know how best to help the young person in need.
The Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) is a dedicated free helpline for the children’s workforce, and forms part of the UK Safer Internet Centre. We support schools, social workers, youth clubs, police, sport clubs and anyone working with children and young people. We are here to help with issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, grooming, radicalisation, harmful content and everything in between, we’ve seen them all and have the expertise to share! We can help with the big and the small questions, so whether it be; there’s a new game/app the children are using a lot and you’d like to know it’s functionality to the more serious like, you suspect a child is being groomed or know there are indecent images that have been shared and don’t know what to do, we can hold your hand and guide you through best practice.
These issues are not always about young people. Sometimes protecting the children you work with means working through your own issues as well. Not only do we support educational settings and professionals working through online safety concerns for the young person, we also see it as paramount that we do the same for the professional. Commonly this might mean supporting a school with some parents who have decided to air their grievances with the school all over Facebook, or it might be supporting an NQT with closing down that pesky Myspace account with a few pictures you’d rather year 6’s didn’t stumble upon.
We know we may not always be the final stop to finding a resolution for you and we’re happy about that. We work closely with other fantastic charities and organisations like The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign, social media companies and law enforcement which allows us to confidently signpost on to other services, resources and organisations when there is additional support needed.
The Safer Internet Centre provides a huge array of resources and information which can help keep young people safe online, why not visit the website www.saferinternet.org.uk
There are also some useful resources schools can implement themselves such as https://www.360safe.org.uk (a free online safety self-review tool) or https://boost.swgfl.org.uk, an award winning online safety toolkit for schools.
You can contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline for free, impartial advice at [email protected] or on 0844 3814772 between 10-4, Monday to Friday.