in News March 17, 2017

We teach our children not to speak to strangers

This generation is a lot more tech aware, from tablets to smartphones, the National Literacy Trust has found that 86% of school-age children own a mobile phone.

There is no doubting the benefits of the instantaneous nature of today’s technology; it is a means for parents to keep up with their children’s’ whereabouts. More so, as consumers, we have been sold the different applications of these so called gadgets.

Despite the benefits of having a mobile, it is now the internet access that has opened up a whole new world, for the younger generation. As a parent, you would assume that your child uses their phone to chat with friends or family; but that may not always be the case.

A study from Cox Communications found that 69% of teenagers regularly receive online personal messages from strangers. Many parents may be unaware of this fact, as only 21% of teens would tell a trusted adult about it.

On Tuesday 14th March 2017, Strengthening Faith Institution and Near Neighbours delivered a training workshop on safeguarding in Leicester. This concerned the issue of internet safety and was aimed at faith institutions, as they are an integral part of the local community. The training also focused on child abuse and that this can occur from anywhere from the home to school and even faith institutions.

Reverend Dr Tom Wilson from St Philip’s Center, opened the event by discussing the importance of safeguarding in faith institutions or places of worship. He went on to state that:

“Many faith institutions notice a child needs support and if they don’t have a policy in place it gets really messy, it is very unfortunate when incidents take place, at St. Philips we have had to help children over the years.”

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A recent incident occurred at a faith based supplementary school in North London; a Whatsapp group was set up for year 6 and year 7 school children where the posts are described by parents as “horrific”, and “the number of disturbing posts are in the thousands.”

The children in Year 6 informed teachers that they were repeatedly being invited to join the group; the faith based supplementary school informed parents and one reported having looked through the messages that they “were wholly inappropriate, chain messages and there was a picture of a person hanging themselves with a chilling message attached like a postcard picture”.

Other parents have reported that the language used was inappropriate and expressed their concerns; “the fact the school took immediate action to inform parents of the Whatsapp group demonstrates that the school has undertaken intense safeguarding training.”

Given the number of children involved with unknown participants demonstrates the concerns around e-safety and the importance of such safeguarding training for all those who are in contact with children.

As children and young people are unable to protect themselves alone, adults whether parents, teachers and members of faith institutions or the local community have the responsibility to protect them as best we can.

Helen Duncan, from Leicester City Council who attended the training stated that:

“It is our duty of care to protect children and young people from physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and neglect.”

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The Government has a guidance which sets out the different responsibilities organisations have to safeguard and protect children. The guidance also sets out what they should do if they have any concerns that a child is at risk of abuse.

Find out here how child protection works in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

in News March 17, 2017


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