Childnet International is a charity established to help make the internet a safe place for children and young people. It works directly in schools and other settings, and has developed a range of award-winning websites and resources to equip children and young people, parents, carers, teachers and other professionals with the information they need to use the internet safely and responsibly.
Childnet has recently issued updated guidance for schools on understanding, preventing and responding to cyberbullying (following its guidance published in 2007). This is a very helpful, key piece of guidance which schools should read carefully and implement where cyberbullying incidents arise, whether they consider these to be low level and capable of being dealt with internally, or sufficiently serious to require the involvement of children's social care and/or the police. It should be noted that whilst this guidance is aimed specifically at schools, it can also be used by other organisations working with children and young people, and indeed ought to be regarded as best practice to do so.
One of the most significant points from the guidance is that the whole school community should be involved in cyberbullying prevention activities. This is in line with KCSIE's requirement that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone's responsibility. It is important that schools take an holistic approach to safeguarding including issues such as cyberbullying. This is enabled when the whole school community is involved and takes a strong, unified approach which should help to reduce incidents and their impact. What is particularly helpful in the guidance are the three checklists for each section (understanding, preventing and responding). Schools should use these checklists to reflect on their own approaches to cyberbullying and determine whether their strategies need to be strengthened. Our Child Protection Unit is able to provide further advice and guidance if/as needed.
This new guidance is very timely in light of Safer Internet Day, which is organised by the Safer Internet Centre every February, to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people across the UK, and which will take place this year on 7 February (further details of which can be found here).
Incidentally, on Friday 13th January we hosted an online safety event here at Farrer & Co on responding to sexting incidents, which was aimed at schools and organisations that work with children and young people. During the event we referred to the practical PHSE toolkit, called Crossing the Line, that has been produced by Childnet for educators to explore online behaviour and consequences. This contains films and lesson plans focusing on the issues of cyberbullying, sexting, peer pressure and self-esteem. We showed one of the films on the consequences of sexting called "Just Send It". It is a fantastic teaching resource for children and young people which we strongly recommend to you.
If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing, please contact Adele Eastman (firstname.lastname@example.org; 020 3375 7581), Shehnal Amin (email@example.com; 020 3375 7901) or your usual contact at the firm on 020 3375 7000. Further information can be found on the Child Protection page on our website.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, January 2017