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5.28 On-line Safeguarding


  Impact of Information Communication Technology (ICT) on Children
  Working Practices
  Policy Decisions
  Communications Policy

Impact of Information Communication Technology (ICT) on Children

  1. The range of child abuse definitions and concepts are now being seen in an ICT environment. As technology develops, the internet and its range of content services can be accessed through various devices;
  2. Communication technologies have become a significant tool in the distribution of indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of children. Internet chat rooms, social networking sites, gaming sites, virtual worlds, instant messaging, discussion forums and bulletin boards are used as a means of contacting children with a view to grooming them for inappropriate or abusive relationships, which may include requests to make and transmit pornographic images of themselves, or to perform sexual acts live in front of a webcam. Contacts made initially in a chat room are likely to be carried on via e-mail, Instant Messaging services, mobile phones or text messaging;
  3. There is also growing cause for concern about the exposure of children to inappropriate material via interactive communication technology - e.g. adult pornography and/or extreme forms of obscene material, such as access to extremist view/ political grooming or access to violence. Allowing or encouraging a child to view such material over an appreciable period of time may warrant further enquiry. Children themselves may engage in text bullying (Cyberbullying), deliberately send explicit images of themselves (Sexting) or use mobile phone cameras to capture violent assaults of other children for circulation;
  4. Where there is evidence of a child using ICT (including gaming devices) excessively, this may be a cause for concern more generally, in the sense that it may inhibit the development of real-world social relationships, become a factor contributing to obesity or negatively impact on their educational attainment. It may also indicate either a contemporary problem, or a deeper underlying issue that ought to be addressed, such as addictive behaviour and behaviour relating to the obsessive use of technologies such as games stations;
  5. There is some evidence that people found in possession of indecent photographs/pseudo photographs of children are likely to be involved directly in child abuse. Thus when somebody is discovered to have placed or accessed such material on the internet, the Police should normally consider the likelihood that the individual is involved in the active abuse of children. In particular, the individual's access to children should be established, within the family, employment contexts, and in other settings (e.g. work with children as a volunteer or in other positions of trust);
  6. If there are particular concerns about one or more specific children, procedures should be followed for Referrals, Single Assessments and, when appropriate, Strategy Discussions/Meetings. As part of their role in preventing abuse and neglect, LSCBs should consider activities to raise awareness about the safe use of the internet. LSCBs are a key partner in the development and delivery of training and education programmes, with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). This includes building on the work of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), the Home Office and the ICT industry in raising awareness about the safe use of interactive communication technologies (ICT) by children.

Working Practices

  1. LSCB Organisations will:
    • Ensure that they have an appropriately trained person nominated as the lead eSafety Champion who receives regular updates on emerging trends / technologies and potential risks;
    • Ensure that the use of Internet derived materials by service providers and children and young people complies with copyright law;
    • Provide guidance on using Social Networking Sites and other communications technologies safely and responsibly;
    • Explain sanctions for inappropriate use of communication technology to the children, young people and staff;
    • Encourage children and young people to be critically aware of the materials they read and show them how to validate information before accepting its accuracy;
    • Ensure that carers and parents of children and young people accessing communication technology are aware of e safety issues;
    • Ensure that they use digital images and video of children and young people responsibly and safely and encourage children, young people, their parents and carers to do the same;
    • Provide guidance on using Social Networking Sites and other communications technologies safely and responsibly;
    • Encourage the safe and responsible use of mobile phones by children and young people.
  2. Where agencies use social media and communication technologies to monitor if a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, the agency must have in place procedures compliant with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The Act provides a lawful means of conducting covert surveillance, where surveillance includes any form of monitoring activity. RIPA is a scheme that enables surveillance in matters confined to the prevention, detection or investigation of crime or disorder. The Surveillance Commissioner has indicated that surveillance for the purposes of protecting a child, where there is no formal authorisation process is an invasion of privacy under the Human Rights Act. An agency’s formal authorisation process should require a practitioner who intends to monitor a service user (or fellow employee) to seek authorisation from a senior manager and the agency’s social media / e-safety lead outlining the following information:
    • Nature of concern;
    • The evidence/intelligence which gives rise to child protection issue;
    • Outline why it is not possible to obtain the information without surveillance;
    • Outline the detail of surveillance that is planned to take place (who will be monitored; what is to be monitored; why it is to be monitored; when the monitoring activity will take place; and how of which communications and social media sites will be accessed);
    • What steps will be taken to reduce the risk that confidential information about third parties will not be accessed (where monitoring activity identifies that a third party’s child may be at risk, access to this information will require separate authorisation).
  3. Accessing open websites to monitor service user (or employee) activity is considered to be a lower form of intrusion. Accessing closed websites, including social media sites is considered to be a higher form of intrusion requiring documented authorisation that can be audited by the Surveillance Commissioner. Agencies must have in place guidance for their employees to ensure there are no individual or agency breaches with RIPA or the Human Rights Act.

Policy Decisions

  1. Authorising Access to ICT
    • All organisations must have appropriate Acceptable Use Policies in place which users must read (and sign where applicable) before using any ICT resources;
    • The organisation should keep a record of all users (including staff and pupils) who are granted Internet access. The record will be kept up-to-date, for instance a member of staff may leave or a pupil's access be withdrawn;
    • Those with parental responsibility will be asked to sign and return a consent form.
  2. Assessing Risks
    • The organisation will take all reasonable precautions to ensure that users access only appropriate material. Any inappropriate access, whether intentional or unintentional, will escalated in line with the organisation's eSafety Policy and procedures;
    • The organisation will regularly audit eSafety provision to establish if their policies and procedures are adequate, up to date and implemented effectively.
  3. Handling E-Safety Complaints
    • Complaints of Internet misuse will be dealt with by the person supervising internet use;
    • Any complaint about staff misuse must be referred to the management within the organisation;
    • Complaints of a child protection nature must be dealt with in accordance with the organisation's child protection procedures;
    • Children and young people and those with parental responsibility will be informed of the complaints procedure on request.

Communications Policy

  1. Introducing the E-Safety Policy to Children and Young People
    • E-Safety rules should be posted in all rooms with computer access and discussed with the Children and Young People at least annually;
    • Children and Young People should be informed that network and Internet use can be monitored;
    • The importance of eSafety will be explained by school staff to Children and Young People including the standards expected both inside and outside of the school environment, particularly in relation to the use of Social Networking Sites.
  2. Staff and the E-Safety Policy
    • All staff will be given the organisation's eSafety Policy and its importance explained, including the requirement to maintain appropriate professional standards both inside and outside of the work environment (e.g. Social Networking Sites);
    • Staff should be made aware that internet traffic may be monitored and traced to the individual device or login. Discretion and professional conduct is essential;
    • The organisation may use monitoring software where this is available to ensure that inappropriate materials are not being stored or used on the organisation's equipment.
  3. Enlisting Parents' Support
    • The attention of those with parental responsibility will be drawn to the organisation's E-Safety Policy.