Professionals Online Safety Helpline releases annual report

14 Apr 2023 UK SIC

The internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, work, and access information. However, with these benefits come risks, particularly in terms of online safety for young people. We recognise these risks and provide a number of services to help individuals navigate online issues and harmful content.

One of these services is the Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH), which is operated by one of our partners, SWGfL. The Professionals Online Safety Helpline has been in operation since 2011 and supports any professional working with children and young people with any online safety issue that they, or the young people in their care, may be facing.

The Helpline has now released their latest report revealing findings and trends between November 1st 2021 – November 1st 2022, which saw a 500% increase in enquiries to the Helpline, with 4,078 recorded cases. The report found that professionals were contacting the Helpline to improve their understanding of online safeguarding issues, or to clarify whether there was a need to escalate their concerns further.

According to the report, the majority of enquiries concerned social media content that could negatively impact a school’s reputation and professional standing. Findings also revealed that many professionals contacting the Helpline were not aware of the support available to help them to block and report content on social media.  

These findings demonstrate the importance of the Online Safety Bill addressing platform liability. However, as many of the harms disclosed to the Helpline would not be in the scope of the bill, it is essential to support multiple stakeholders in the online safety space to reduce online harms. These findings emphasise the importance of online safety training for educational professionals, which SWGfL deliver through free Online Safety Live sessions. (Run in partnership with UKSIC).

The POSH report demonstrates that online safety issues within professional settings require continued attention and investment. In particular, professionals need to be provided with tools, resources, and training to navigate these issues effectively, alongside continued support from services such as the Professionals Online Safety Helpline.

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