Child protection in the Digital Environment Conference


Child protection in the Digital Environment Conference report

23rd September 2013 Manchester


This years conference was opened by Susie Hargreaves, the chief executive for the Internet Watch Foundation, she set the context and tone in which the following discussion of esafety would play out. The current trends in young people’s digital practices were delivered through the video below, the discussion of the issues surrounding these trends followed.

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Current stats about social media use


  • Children largest group of Internet users 29% social media daily
  • A third of 12-17 have smartphones- 91% teens use social networking on phones, 27% upload video- boys equally as likely as girls
  • 13% report stuff seen on Internet
  • 33 % parents think filtering works
  • 78% share online news status updates pictures daily Family online safety institute- video shown- FOSI “Think you know?!”


What do CEOP do? Current issues


Internet Watch Foundation can deal with UK removal of indecent content within 60 minutes. They also contact relevant authorities to deal with sources of content using IP addresses as they work collaboratively with international bodies. The current issues that CEOP are dealing with are;


  • Blackmail using indecent images through the use of webcams- online sexual blackmail. Youngest case of eight years old- predominantly in UK, encouraging self-harm bullying and slogans on own bodies (branding)
  •  Extreme cases
  •  184 UK victims- only those who have come forward
  • 424 victims worldwide
  • 7 took own lives
  • UK prime target for this type of online criminal activity
  • Overseas targeting UK children- English language, offenders perception that UK is open and free place so it’s easier to get the child to do this.
  • Offenders do leave a digital footprint so cases have been followed up using these pieces of intelligence
  •  Social networking sites should be monitoring content- case study- offender had over 40 profiles and over five networking sites and was operating on a regular basis.
  • 11-15 year old boys
  • Modus operandi was the same- pretending to be a handsome young person Library of images to convince child or young person that offender is real CEOP worried with police and other agencies to support investigation Forensic intelligence etc- within less than a week the offenders were arrested
  • 1000 suspected victims
  • Work collaboratively- safe environments everybody has a role -Parents careers need to understand what is happening to children on Internet It is people business to know what children do online as it would be if child roamed the streets at night
  • Encourage the sharing of information to schools to deliver clear messages to students and parents Responsible approach from the media.

However CEOP finished with one of the most common concerns- the apathy of parents was cited as an issue– just not aware or don’t think it will happen to their children. One case study showed that parents were likely to punish and ban children from using the Internet if child had a problem online rather than educate them in safer surfing. This is a problem as most young people don’t want to tell report any incidents anyway but the fear of being banned from using the Internet adds to the need to keep quiet.


Dean Young West Midlands Police

Child sex online exploitation team

Work in partnership with other agencies to pick up key signs of online criminality- we as educators, teachers and parents are told to “think the unthinkable”. The motto of the team is to Prevent, Protect and Pursue.

This team liaise with other forces and share intelligence as well as undertake covert ops works worldwide- have a Work Together policy- multiagency public protection arrangements (MAPPA). Link with local safeguarding boards across regions- extends to schools networks and parents/children.

The current concern for his team, resided in the world of Online gaming– as he explained that there any incidences of online grooming using video games.From what we read and see in the Media- parents are very concerned about the content of games (particularly GTA and other violent role playing games) but not about the security of and access to the network -when this could be a target area. Already within the space of a week, someone has been arrested for grooming using the new release of GTA to gain access to children and young people.


Simon Milner

Facebook and Instagram safety

Facebook users are bound by rules- most importantly cannot harm others but offence and causing offence is more difficult to police as is highly subjective.

Real name policy -have to be yourself- “more safe” than others including anonymous like ask fm. Is this the case though? Children and young people are willing to lie to deceive Facebook to gain access.

Help centre (top right) Reporting can be done here- not the only place- can be reported from anywhere on the site (mobile and desktop)

  • 23 supported languages
  • 5000 employees 24/7 support and monitoring


Every single report is looked at by an individual Reports are prioritised by age or harm or immediacy eg. Suicide

Social reporting ability to report someone outside of Facebook helpful in school community- could be sent to safeguarding group in the context.

All that is needed is an email address and can then send a copy of the whole report- even blocked Facebook institutions can use this feature.

Global safety advisory board Eradicating CEI from Facebook- proactive in removing this material photo DNA- scans photos on Facebook against a database- although the software cannot spot new images- which is a problem in Sexting Sextortion cases as images so quickly appear and disappear and are saved elsewhere.

Also Facebook is working to tackle grooming by trying to look at patterns and language and users Instagram is easiest to change privacy settings can make posts private and chose followers etc and able to block unwanted followers No nudity allowed on Instagram which is safer than other social network platforms.

Simon dealt with a barrage of questions following his presentation that ranged from very technical questions regarding privacy (which we have dealt with in our previous blog post “protecting your digital footprint”) to questions about the ‘real name’ policy which fails to stop underage users signing up- which seemed to be the biggest concern of the conference audience.


Laura Higgins @laurahiggins_


Laura is the manager of the professionals Online Safety Helpline– this service is the first of its kind within the UK and has been established as a lifeline for professionals who work with children and young people who are experiencing safety issues.

She discussed the environments of risk that children and young people navigate through on a daily basis- highlighting the potential damage to lives. Laura discussed the recent case study of Hannah Smith and ASK FM and the Little Gossip and Spotted sites very common and difficult to police and other social network sites or question and answer sites, Gaming, Apps, Webcams, Skype and MSN chat.

Her main concern was the general chipping away of online bullying maybe some sort of drip-drip effect that makes these cases so extreme.

Young people are however opening themselves to risk-

  • overtly sexual behaviours
  • Deliberately engaging in hate speak
  • Don’t understand what they are doing or how caught up people can get
  • A version of self-harm- putting yourself at risk knowingly

They need to be aware of the appropriateness of sites young people use. Authorities need to do thorough care planning and risk assessment and up-skilling of practitioners. These should be embedded in care packages thus using a joined up approach.


Dai Durbridge


Dai is a partner in the award winning education team at Browne Jacobson solicitors who advise on over 800 schools and academies on a full range of issues involving the law.

Today’s talk focussed on the confiscation of mobile devices and checking students personal data. The most common questions Dai receives from teachers and other educators are- can I search for devices? Can I confiscate? Can I search for data? Can I delete content found on pupils devices?


The short answer is yes- you can confiscate devices and mobiles if you think they are causing harm.


Search with consent– pupil for any item formal written consent not needed

Search without consent– reasonable grounds to suspect any prohibited items.

Any item banned by school rules- What is reasonable? Consider all circumstances- what is the proportionate cost?

Staff can use discretion to retain and or destroy any item found as long as it is reasonable circumstances Electronic data- if it is banned it can be confiscated- staff can erase data if good reason to do- so what is “good reason?”

Good reason is the deducted by the consideration of these;

  • Cause harm
  • disrupt teaching
  • break school rules

This short presentation by Dai was highly received and helped to clear up the do’s and don’ts for teachers dealing with issues in the classroom regarding mobile technology.

click on the above link for 17 pages of advice for mobile devices.



An esafety person in each institution? Sandbach High School esafety good practice

Janet Scott has been the deputy at Sandbach High school since 2005 and leads the school on safety matters.

Janet opened her presentation by stating that she didn’t claim to have any answers to safety- acknowledging the fact that a ban on using mobile technology in education is not beneficial, rather she wanted to offer some models of good practice.

 Sandbach highschool offer the following;

  • Champion esafety put it into the community several times esafety person that is going to bring it to the attention of staff.
  • An esafety element within induction or training within the remit of safeguarding is good practice.
  • Institutions do have policies- they must be readable and accessible for staff.
  • Epict (European pedagogical ICT license Become accredited)-able to role-out to the community Pshce programme.
  • Also helpful to find skilled technicians

Students- ICT lessons also to cover in PSHCE should include;

  • cyber bullying
  • Acceptable use
  • esafety
  • Sexting
  • Assemblies
  • Safer Internet day
  • Invisible group the parents
  • Add ons to events
  • Facebook and twitter links
  • Publications
  • Links to resources


“Needs to be a whole school approach”

 Janet concluded that safety is not just about ICT it is about behaviours- and that there is teaching needed as students are not the ‘Digital Natives’ we think they are.

She reiterated the idea that students should not be punished if an issue occurs as this is going to make the student or individual not want to report it next time and its difficult enough to get them to report it now.

The day was concluded by a short video entitled “will you be my friend?” by the English National Opera- which takes a highly satirical look at the world of social media and the differences in our social behaviour in the real world- showing what is acceptable online is not acceptable offline to get the message of safety through.


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To take away– students should have (safety should include);

  • Critical thinking
  • Ethics of online citizenship
  • Self-protection and personal skills


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