The Internet is a wonderful resource providing a huge amount of information and many learning activities. However, it has a darker side, with some information not appropriate to learners and users vulnerable to exploitation. Students and parents should be aware of the potential dangers and take measures to ensure safe usage by all.
The information in this section is provided to help you think about how to ensure that all students access the internet safely and responsibly.
A number of organisations are working to make the internet a safe place for the benefit of all users.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is a law enforcement agency that aims to tackle child sex abuse wherever and whenever it happens. Part of its strategy for achieving this is to give e-safety advice for parents and carers, training for educators and child protection professionals, and a ‘report abuse’ button for reporting abuse online. Services include:
The CEOP Thinkuknow website has a range of information on online safety for young people, with key topics including mobiles, gaming, social networking, chatting, podcasts, blogs, and peer-to-peer technologies. The content of the site is based on three key messages:
- How to have fun online
- How to stay in control online
- How to report a problem online.
A section of the website specifically for parents and carers aims to help them understand more about what their child may be doing online. The site also has a prominent link to the CEOP service for reporting suspicious behaviour online with or towards a child (see Reporting abuse below).
Through the Thinkuknow education programme, CEOP offers training for those working with children aged between 11 and 16. The training is available to anyone who has a professional role in child protection, education or law enforcement – which can include police officers, teachers, social workers, child protection specialists and people from children's charities and voluntary organisations. Once trained, educators are able to deliver the Thinkuknow programme directly to children. Completion of the CEOP Ambassador Training scheme will allow educators to cascade the training to colleagues.
CEOP works alongside colleagues in the criminal justice and child protection agencies in the UK and abroad to add value to existing services and support the professionals working in this area. The centre offers a series of specialist training courses aimed at professionals who:
- conduct criminal investigations where the sexual abuse of children is a factor
- manage offenders in the community or within the justice system
- take responsibility for safeguarding children from sexual predators.
The training courses are designed to help delegates to understand clearly the nature of sexual offending and to develop the skills and knowledge that can better equip professionals to deal with the difficult and distressing nature of such crimes. One of the courses deals specifically with internet sex offenders.
CEOP provides a facility, in association with the Virtual Global Taskforce, for reporting any inappropriate or potentially illegal online activity towards a child. This might be an online conversation with someone who a child thinks may be an adult, who is treating a child in a way which makes them feel uncomfortable, or who is trying to meet a child for sex.
If a child is in immediate danger, dial 999 for police assistance.
There are prominent reporting links from the CEOP website, the Virtual Global Taskforce website and the Thinkuknow website. A reporting link is also available as a tab option in MSN Messenger.
Childnet International is a non-profit organisation, working in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children..
Childnet works in three main areas:
- Access and promoting quality content - helping children and young people to use the net constructively, showcase quality content and enable others to use our resources and develop new projects.
- Awareness and advice - helping children and young people acquire new ‘net literacy’ skills and giving advice to industry, organisations, parents, teachers and carers about internet and mobile safety.
- Protection and policy - working with others to help protect children from being exploited in the online environments provided by new technologies as well as seeking to initiate and respond to policy changes.
The Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS) is a coalition of leading children’s charities in the UK (Barnardo’s, ChildLine, The Children’s Society, ECPAT UK, National Children’s Bureau, Action for children, Children England, NSPCC, and Stop it Now!), working together to provide safeguards for children on the internet. CHIS campaigns to raise awareness of the hazards children may encounter when using the internet, works with the internet supply chain to develop child safety policies, and lobbies government for action. For further information see:
The Children's Society
National Children's Bureau
Action for children
Stop it Now!
INHOPE is the International Association of Internet Hotlines which exists to support and enhance the work of internet hotline providers all over the world in responding to illegal use and content on the internet. Its main functions include sharing expertise, supporting new hotlines, and educating and informing policy makers at an international level.
ICRA (formerly the Internet Content Rating Association) is an international, non-profit organisation that aims to protect children from potentially harmful material on the internet through self regulation. ICRA has developed a method of rating and labelling content on the internet which aims to empower the public, and especially parents, to make informed decisions about electronic information.
The ICRA system is designed to be as objective as possible. Web authors voluntarily complete an online questionnaire describing the content of their site. Broad topics covered are chat, language, nudity and sexual content, violence, and other areas such as gambling, drugs and alcohol. ICRA then generates a content label in the form of a short piece of computer code, which the author adds to their site. Internet users can then set their web browsers to allow or disallow websites based on the content of this label. The ICRA system can also be used with a number of filtering systems.
Content labels generated by ICRA conform to the industry standard known as PICS – the Platform for Internet Content Selection, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). See also World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS).
The Internet Safety Zone has been developed by the Cyberspace Research Unit (CRU) at the University of Central Lancashire, offering advice to parents, teachers and children. It includes information on how different technology works, such as search engines, email, blogs and social networking. It also offers advice on dealing with issues such as eating disorders, cyberbullying, self harm and suicide.
The Internet Society (ISOC) is a professional membership society with more than 80 organisational and 28,000 individual members across 90 countries. Its principles include self-regulation by content providers, removing discrimination, and protecting personal information generated on the internet.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is the UK hotline for reporting illegal online content – specifically child sexual abuse images hosted worldwide and also content that is criminally obscene and incitement to racial hatred hosted in the UK. The IWF works in partnership with the online industry, the Government, law enforcement agencies and other hotlines at home and abroad to remove such content from the internet. A prominent link for reporting illegal content appears on the home page of the IWF website.
The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA UK) is the UK’s trade association for providers of internet services. Its main aim is to promote competition, self-regulation and development of the internet industry. Members of ISPA agree to abide by a code of practice that includes statements on legality, decency, and data protection and privacy. Their website provides a consumer area with guidance for protecting children online.
The Safer Internet plus Programme aims to promote safer use of the internet and new online technologies, particularly for children, and to fight against illegal content and content unwanted by the end-user, as part of a coherent approach by the European Union. The website also provides details of new internet safety projects and proposals.
The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) is made up of world-wide law enforcement agencies working together to fight child abuse online. The aim of the VGT is to build an effective, international partnership of law enforcement agencies that helps to protect children from online child abuse.
A section for young people has links to a range of useful resources, and the site also features a direct link for reporting abuse.
WiredSafety is a US-based service providing help, information and education to internet and mobile device users of all ages. They help victims of cyberabuse ranging from online fraud, cyberbullying, cyberstalking and child safety, to hacking and malicious code attacks. See also:
DCSF: UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS)
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) will deliver the recommendations from Dr Tanya Byron’s report ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’, to help improve the regulation and education of internet use, covering online bullying, safe search features and violent videos. The council is a coalition of experts from organisations from the public and private sector and will ensure that views of parents and children will be included in the development of a Child Internet Safety Strategy to be delivered in 2009.