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Child safety on the internet

The internet has the potential to offer children and young people a wide range of opportunities – to learn, to develop new skills, to keep in touch with friends and make new ones and to have fun. However there are concerns about both inequalities of access to the technology and the possible threats to children’s safety that can exist online.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

Click CEOP | Advice | Help | Report
Thinkyouknow.co.uk

Use the CEOP website to find a number of ways to receive help and advice as well as the option to report any instance of sexual contact or harmful material to CEOP.

Use the Think you know website to download resources on child internet safety for use by children, parents/carers and teachers/trainers.

Threats to children's safety

Threats can arise in the following ways:

  • Children and young people inadvertently or deliberately accessing either illegal or inappropriate sexual or violent material – illegal material could involve children or adults.
  • Targeting and grooming of children by predatory adults through chat rooms, possibly adults posing as children
  • The abuse of children, in some cases in real time using web cams, in order to provide material for paedophile news groups
  • The use of email, instant messaging etc to bully and harass other – this may be more likely to occur between children and young people

When somebody is discovered to have placed child pornography on the internet or accessed child pornography the police would normally consider whether the individual might also be involved in the active abuse of children. IN particular, the individual’s access to children should be established within the family and employment contexts and in other settings (e.g. work with children as a volunteer). If there are particular concerns about one or more specific children, there may be a need to carry out child protection enquiries in respect of these children.

Whilst specialist services may be more likely to come across children and young people who have been involved in either the production or use of pornography, all services have a role to play in enabling children and young people to use the internet safely, fro example by providing information.

Guidelines for internet use by children and young people

  • Place computers in public places where everyone can see what is being viewed
  • Take an interest in internet use; talk to young people about what they've seen.
  • Monitor time spent online to ensure it does not become excessive
  • Educate young people to use the resource sensibly
  • Help young people to become critical users; "...is this information true?"
  • Warn young people about unsavoury sites and discuss the issues involved
  • Contact the Internet Watch Foundation (www.iwf.org.uk) if anyone finds any material you believe to be illegal
  • Compile lists of safe sites and chat rooms
  • Access chat rooms by checking if it is moderated and by whom and finding out if the chat room has a clear terms and conditions policy? Does it have appropriate access control and password verification? Does it remind users of safety issues? Does the chat room give young people genuine opportunities to interact and shape the chat?

Emails/chatrooms

To keep children and young people safe online ensure they are aware of safety tips or rules like the following. These tips will also need to be communicated in a way that does not scare children, but encourages them to take responsibility.

  • Never tell anyone you meet on the internet your name, address, telephone numbers, or any other information, such as information about your family, where you live or the school you go to.
  • Do not send anyone your picture, credit card or bank details without checking with a responsible adult.
  • Never give out your password to anyone, even your best friends.
  • Do not stay in a chat room if anyone says anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried and tell a parent/carer if you see such material.
  • Always tell an adult if you receive a message that is scary, threatening or rude, do not respond and log off.
  • If you wish to meet someone you have met in cyberspace, ask a parent/carer's permission and then only when they can be present.
  • Always be yourself and do not pretend to be anyone or anything you are not.
  • Never open attachments to emails which come from people or sources you do not know. They may contain viruses and damage your computer.
  • Learn your 'netiquette' widely accepted rules of behaviour include some of the following. Typing in CAPITAL LETTERS looks like you are shouting so use asterisks for emphasis.
  • Be aware that people online may no be what they seem, adults can pretend to be children with similar interests to yourself.
  • Be polite when entering a chat room, check out what people are talking about before participating. Be careful not to use bad language, providers will terminate your account!
  • Finally enjoy your time on the internet but do not forget about all the other things you can do:
    - share time with your family
    - read a good book
    - play with your friends
    - participate in sport