Online safety

Keeping children and young people safe online can be a real challenge at times, technology moves at such a fast pace and is now a growing safeguarding concern. The good news is there's lots of support out there to keep young people safe online.

Advice for concerned parents​

  • Talk to your child about the websites, games and apps that they use. By understanding and involving yourself in their internet use, you are helping them keep safe.
  • Be positive about the internet and remember that it is a fantastic learning and communication tool.
  • Try not to overreact to minor issues. Children often worry that you may take away their internet access, they may become secretive and hide problems from you.
  • Keep PCs, laptops and games consoles out of bedrooms wherever possible. Having the laptop in a family room makes it easier for you to monitor your child’s internet use, whilst still giving them privacy.
  • Set clear and consistent ground rules and expectations for your child’s online behaviour. If they understand what is and is not acceptable, it may help them with any problems in the future.

Online safety family agreement

A family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet and discuss together how to behave in a positive way when online at home, at school or at a friend’s house. If young people are at the heart of setting the rules they are more likely to buy into them.

Another good idea is to get young people to set the consequences. To start talking about online safety you can download the family agreement.

More online safety information

  • Parent info - provides up-to-date, expert information for parents on a range of concerns.
  • Thinkuknow - an award-winning on and offline safety programme with resources for parents.
  • Internet Matters - advice and support for parents to keep their children safe online.

Online safety sessions for schools

Northamptonshire County Council has an online safety team that provides the following training and workshops for young people within schools and organisations.

  • Staff session – 2 hours on ways to keep young people safe online.
  • Parent session – 1 hour aimed at parents and carers on ways to keep young people safe online.
  • Young people / student session (5 to 18 years) – 1 hour per session but email us for more information.
  • Governor training – 1 hour covering good practice and affective online safety polices.

For more information and costings please email:

onlinesafety@northamptonshire.gov.uk 

What policies and documents should my school or setting have in place?

If you provide children and young people with access to the internet and technologies you should have the following in place:

  • Online safety policy – Details the technical infrastructure, filtering provision, safeguarding measures, levels of education and training for staff, parents and pupils.
  • Staff acceptable use policy – This document governs staff use of technologies and the internet.
  • Online safety audit – All online safety incidents should be logged to provide an audit trail of actions taken and individuals involved.

Access online safety templates

Online safety - supporting information

​What is sexting?

Technology and social media can be wonderful things, but both come with risk. UKCCIS define sexting as the production and / or sharing of sexual photos or videos. Under 18s are particularly vulnerable when sharing images and videos of nudity, nearly nude or sexual acts involving them or others.

Sexting also gets called 'sending nudes' and can be referred to as 'youth produced sexual imagery.

It is important to remember that when adults share photos or videos of under 18s this is child abuse and should be reported to MASH.

Why do young people sext?

There are a number of reasons why young people might send naked images and it's important to consider all causes, such as:

  • peer pressure
  • flirting
  • normalised behaviour
  • blackmail
  • exploring their sexual feelings
  • boosting their self-esteem
  • pornography

What is the law?

If anyone under the age of 18 possesses, takes or shares nude or sexual images then they are breaking the law.

We need to handle cases of sexting carefully so that we don't scare or distance young people from talking about it or being involved in the conversation. There needs to be a calm approach that lets children or young people talk to us about their safeguarding concerns. We don't want to frighten them in assemblies, make them feel shame or embarrass them for their behaviour.

How to approach cases of sexting

Please follow the UKCCIS guidance or refer to 'so you got naked online' document.

There are strong links between sexting and grooming of young people. If you are worried that a child or young person is being groomed online, you can go over the responding to and managing sexting incidents.

Make sure you really listen to what the young person is telling you and remember to validate their feelings. Finally, we need to challenge the behaviour and not the technology. Removing devices or advising parents to remove the device could have the opposite effect.

You can find more guidance on sexting from Childline.

Preventation of sexting in a school or setting

A great way to keep children safe online is to embed sexting within the curriculum especially PSHE. There are a number of resources that can help, but we recommend you take into consideration age limits:

Alternative resources

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