e-Safety Incident – Alert for Schools and Settings

Following reports of a serious e-Safety incident to the e-Safety Officer where primary aged children have accidentally accessed inappropriate and potentially illegal abuse material at home via clicking a link and using applications on a Facebook profile. We would like to encourage all schools to bring the important issue of keeping children safe online to the whole school community.

The incidents have been reported to the police and are being dealt with appropriately but we wish to highlight this concern to all schools and settings so they can speak to children, parents and carers regarding the use of social networking websites and especially the use of such sites by primary aged children (despite many sites having an age limit of 13).

A sample letter has been created which schools may wish to use and adapt to highlight this concern to parents and carers and suggestions for possible measures they might like to consider. Settings might like to use this as a reminder that Safer Internet Day 2011 is 8 February and this may provide an ideal opportunity to reinforce this message. For more information on Safer Internet Day please visit: www.saferinternet.org.uk

It is essential that all parents and carers help their children to understand how to protect their personal information, keep safe online and how to report a problem and that parents and carers themselves are aware of the potential dangers posed to children online. If any children do raise concerns about content they have accessed or if they have seen any upsetting or inappropriate content whilst using the internet then they can visit www.ceop.police.uk/reportabuse and report the concern.

Whilst some e-Safety incidents may occur outside of the school, it is important that all schools recognise the important role they have to play in helping children learn how to keep safe online and in supporting parents and carers with this task. Schools, parents and carers must recognise that we cannot rely on banning children from accessing sites, or relying on filters or parental controls to safeguard our children when they are online. It is essential we all work together to educate children and young people to the possible online risks and ensure they are aware of how to behave safely online and understand what to do if they encounter a problem.

All schools must have a clear and up-to-date e-Safety policy which should be communicated to the whole school community. The e-Safety Policy should highlight how to report an eSafety incident and who the schools designated e-Safety lead or coordinator is. There are a number of resources available on our website to support schools with this (including a flowchart to support schools in responding to incidents) at www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/kcn/e-safety_home.cfm and Kent schools can contact the e-Safety Officer, Rebecca Avery to discuss any concerns regarding this matter or any other e-Safety issues.

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