- / Procedures
- / Children living away from home
- / Family Placement Service
- / Working with young people
- / E-Safety
- The Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008
- Placement of Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Regulation
- Practice is based on and informed by best practice guidance from the United Kingdom jurisdictions including
- Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011
- Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011
- Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can bring great benefits to children and young people. Children and young people use mobile phones and the internet widely and experience a range of opportunities, attitudes and situations.
- ICT can offer many positive educational and social benefits to children and young people, but unfortunately there are some dangers. Children and young people are vulnerable and may expose themselves to danger, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Recognising and maintaining awareness of e-safety issues and planning accordingly will help to promote appropriate, effective and safe use of electronic communications.
- Electronic communication includes:
o social networking sites and web-logs (blogs)
o internet research - websites, search engines and web browsers
o mobile phones and camera phones
o internet communications - e-mail and Instant Messaging (IM)
o webcams and videoconferencing
o wireless games consoles
o portable media players
- Risks include:
o receiving inappropriate content
o predation and grooming by paedophiles
o requests for personal information
o viewing 'incitement' sites
o bullying and threats
o identity theft
o publishing inappropriate content
o online gambling
o misuse of computer systems
o publishing personal information
o hacking and security breaches
o corruption or misuse of data
- There are a range of effective technological tools to safeguard children, young people and everyone in the household. These include:
o A firewall and virus protection
o Monitoring systems, to keep track of who downloaded what, and when
o Filtering and content control, to minimise access to inappropriate content
- With regard to products to help in safeguarding children foster carers should seek advice when purchasing new technology. For existing technology, and if foster carers are in need of advice, they should discuss initially with their Supervising Social Worker, who will be able to highlight where to seek information and access helplines etc. Also see points 13, 18 and 19 below, for useful information.
- The right balance must be achieved between controlling access, setting rules, and empowering children and young people to use this technology responsibly. .
- The Department expects all school aged children and young people to have access to a computer, and guided access to the internet within their placement, as a resource for homework and other school related activity, and for fun.
- The Internet is an unmanaged open communications channel. Anyone can send messages, discuss ideas, and publish material with little restriction. Much is published for an adult audience and some is unsuitable for children and young people. There is information about keeping children safe at the UK Safer Internet Centre website http://www.saferinternet.org.uk
· Children and young people must also learn that publishing personal information could compromise their own security and that of others. Social networking sites such as Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook allow children to set up an account and create a personal profile in minutes. Information given by users is not checked and there are very limited safeguards. Children are often told by other children (often teenagers) to look at their sites.
· Many quite young children have access to mobile devices. The use of handheld and internet-enabled mobile phones is increasing rapidly. The most ICT capable children or young people may be the most vulnerable. Children who have poor social skills may be more at risk from inappropriate online contact.
- Most internet use is safe, purposeful and beneficial to children and young people and supports their learning. There is always an element of risk though; even an innocent search can occasionally turn up links to adult content or violent imagery.
- There is excellent advice on safe searching on the google site safesearchkids.com. However please note that NO filter-based search engine is completely safe.
- Many children and young people play games online. All games are rated for their age appropriateness. This is known as the PEGI rating ( see www.pegi.info) There is also an excellent review of all applications, games and websites on Common Sense Media's website http://www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews
- Children and young people need to understand the rules given to them must be followed. They need to learn e-safety rules in a way that does not frighten them and which gives them confidence to know what to do in certain situations. They need to understand the rules will change and develop as they get older. They need to learn how to apply strategies which will help them avoid certain 'risks'.
- There are certain aspects of the above that are particularly challenging for children and young people with additional needs. Some common difficulties may be:
o they may still be developing their social understanding of safety and so may relate better to strategies used with younger children
o they are likely to find it hard to apply the same rules in different situations
o most safety principles rely on children being able to explain what happened or to ask for help
o some children may have poor recall and difficulties with learning through experience
- In the case of pornography, there is no doubt the Internet plays host to a large amount of legal and illegal material. Curiosity about pornography is a normal part of sexual development but young people may be shocked by some of the matter online. It is not known what the long term effects of exposure to such images may be.
- A criminal minority make use of the Internet and chat rooms to make contact with young people, with the intention of building relationships that will lead to sexual activity. Paedophiles will often target specific individuals by posing as young children with similar interests; these online 'friendships' may develop over days, weeks, months or years, as the paedophile gains the trust and confidence of the child or young person, perhaps progressing to other forms of contact, such as text messaging, as a prelude to meeting in person. These techniques are often known as 'online enticement', 'grooming' or 'child procurement'
- Online bullying is also an unfortunate feature of increased access to technology. It is perceived as providing an anonymous method by which bullies can torment their victims at any time of day or night. While a young person may not be in physical danger, they may receive e-mail, chat, or text messages that make them feel embarrassed, upset, depressed or afraid. This can damage their self-esteem and pose a threat to their psychological wellbeing.
- Foster carers need to be aware of the potential for the above activity, and, if they become concerned that a child or young person is becoming involved in this, as a victim or a perpetrator, the Child's Social Worker should be informed immediately.
- 'Bullying online' is an online help and advice service combating all forms of bullying. The 'Staying Safe in Cyberspace' section gives tips for staying safe in chat rooms. There is also a section on mobile phone bullying, giving tips on how to protect yourself and information on how the law can help. You can find this at http://www.bullying.co.uk
- A useful website is Thinkuknow which gives guidance on keeping children safe online - http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents.htm
- The Get Safe Online website gives expert advice on how to protect against threats on the Internet - http://www.getsafeonline.org. The Parentscentre website also has detailed safety information and links to websites for parents/carers - http://www.parentscentre.gov.uk
- Childnet International provides a range of information - http://www.childnet-int.org/safety/parents.aspx
- All services have a responsibility to educate staff and carers as to acceptable online behaviours. Foster carers should be very mindful of information they place on social networking sites as this may be open to public scrutiny.
- Foster carers must not place any information or photographs or videos of looked after children on social networking sites unless this is agreed with the Department or those with PR. Foster carers must not use social networking sites to discuss any aspects of fostering, including reference to Looked After Children. Foster carers should be mindful of the information they themselves place on social networking sites as this is open to public scrutiny.
- It is an offence to store images showing child abuse and to use e-mail, text or Instant Messaging (IM) to 'groom' children and young people.
- All settings need to ensure that reasonable actions have been taken and measures put in place to protect users.
- Any allegation of inappropriate behaviour must be reported to senior management under safeguarding procedures, and investigated with great care; an innocent explanation may well exist.
- It is suggested that children and young people are alerted to the dangers in this way:
If one of your friends, or an older person, tells you about a site they want you to see, think carefully. If someone sends you a link, don't open it unless you are sure it's safe. If you are worried, tell an adult where you live or a teacher at school.
- In fostering settings computers should be placed in public family rooms, rather than in children's bedrooms. This simple strategy enables carers to be aware of how the child or young person is using the computer, but in a relaxed and non-intrusive manner. In addition, users intending to 'groom' children and young people will be deterred if they see a family setting.
- Children and young people should not upload photos and videos of themselves or other children and young people unless this has been agreed as appropriate by the social worker or carer.. They should not publish personal information, such as location and contact details. Consideration should be given to advising children and young people to use an anonymous 'cyber name' where logging into sites is essential.
- They should also be advised not to accept offers to be on 'lists of friends' on social networking sites as this could lead to false interpretation.
- For the youngest children the greatest risk is through inadvertent access. Foster carers should be advised to:
Close or minimise the image or window immediately. Don't try to navigate away. If the child saw the page, talk to them about what has happened, and reassure them. Later, investigate the history of visited sites and how the child got there.
- Children of primary school age should be supervised at all times when using the Internet. Foster carers should be aware that networked computers are generally online at all times when a user is logged on.
- Foster carers should think very carefully about allowing children of primary school age to use internet-wide search engines such as Google. If Google is to be used at all they must make sure that strict filtering is applied. Go to www.google.co.uk and click preferences. The BBC search engine is a safer approach for children: http://search.bbc.co.uk .
- Image searches are especially risky. If children or young people are requiring these for homework or school related activity, the foster carer can download the images in advance and store them in a shared folder. Alternatively, use Microsoft's clipart library, which automatically adds downloaded images to Clipart :http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/.
- Whilst tagged image browsers are fun to explore they will accept inappropriate keywords, so use by children and young people is not recommended. Links such as this must not be stored in shared folders accessible by children and young people.
- Foster carers, in conjunction with Supervising Social Workers will need to complete a Safer Caring Policy which addresses issues of internet safety and mobile phone use, to ensure acknowledgement of risks in internet use, and mitigation of those risks for individual children and foster carers. Within the Safer Caring Policy, there should be thought as to how to help children and young people cope if they come across inappropriate material. The aim is to recognise and seek to develop the skills when children and young people need when communicating and using these technologies properly, whilst keeping safe, and secure, and acting with respect for others.
- Children and young people should be encouraged to adhere to the generally accepted rules of network etiquette (netiquette). This include, but are not limited to the following:-
o be polite
o use appropriate language
o do not use abusive language in your messages to others
o do not reveal the address, phone number or other personal details of yourself or other users
o do not use the network in such a way that would disrupt the use of the network by other users
o illegal activities are strictly forbidden
o note that e-mail is not guaranteed to be private
o messages relating to or in support of illegal activities may be reported to the authorities
- Foster carers should always keep passwords secure and limited to those on a 'need to know' basis. Do not leave computers running when you leave the room; wherever possible lock the computer by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del and press K for the duration of any absence. Encouraging children and young people to employ these safety mechanisms will help them to keep safe
- Foster carers should be very mindful of information they place on social networking sites as this may be open to public scrutiny.
- Foster carers must not place any information or photographs or videos of looked after children on social networking sites unless this is agreed with the Department or those with PR.
Supervising Social Workers will, during the assessment process discuss the expectation that school age children can access computers in their placement. They will explore e-safety and advise prospective foster carers of advice websites etc
Supervising Social Worker
E Safety information
Within assessment time scales
Foster carers should complete a Safer Caring Policy which addresses internet and mobile phone use etc and review this for each child placed Supervising Social Workers should review this Policy at least annually
Safer Caring Policy
For each placement and at least annually
When Supervising approved foster carers, Supervising Social Workers will continue to advise on and monitor e-safety
Record of Supervisory Meeting
Supervising Social Workers, and the Child's Social Worker will consider e-safety issues as part of the risk assessment at pre-placement meetings
Supervising Social Worker,
Child's Social Worker
Risk assessment / Placement Plan
At Placement Planning Meeting
If at any time foster carers are concerned about a child or young person's safety in relation to technology, they must raise it with their Supervising Social Worker and the Child's Social Worker as soon as possible
Next working day at latest
Foster carers should be very mindful of information they themselves place on social networking sites as this may be open to public scrutiny.
Foster carers must not place any information or photographs of looked after children or young people onto any social networking sites unless this is agreed by the Department or those with PR
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities