Professionals Online Safety Helpline update

24 Mar 2015 UK SIC

In January 2015 Carmel joined the Professionals Online Safety Helpline.  Since then she has given advice and support to those professionals working with children who are facing an issue online.  In this blog Camel explains some of the issues she has been assisting with. 

It’s been a busy first quarter of 2015 on the Professionals Online Safety Helpline and with the Easter holidays fast approaching it feels as though spring has finally sprung. As you may or may not know, the POSH helpline offers a service like no other; if you are a professional working with children and are facing an issue online we are here to give you advice and support. To help with the growing demand on the helpline we have two new recruits to introduce; As well as myself, who joined the team in January, we will also be joined by Ray at the end of the March.  Ray, is an ex- police officer and Senior House Parent at a secondary school, who as you can imagine has a wealth of experience in dealing with the type of issues we come across on the Helpline

Recently some of the more common issues we have been assisting with are; imitation Instagram accounts (imitating pupils and bullying others or imitating the school) and professional online identity threats such as parents taking to social media to air their grievances with school/teachers, especially on Facebook. We can talk through the best route for reporting imitation accounts and assist with take down of content, we can also offer links to additional resources and articles that could help in preventing further incidents. For example, in a recent case pupils from a school had harvested photos from teachers own personal Facebook pages and were then posting them on an ‘anonymous’ Instagram account along with abusive and derogatory comments. We gave some advice on how to best to report, but this also bought up a second conversation around the teachers’ own online privacy/safety knowledge, this then lead the school to ordering enough copies of the ‘Facebook checklist’ to distribute amongst both pupils and teachers.

Sometimes it is good just to hear that you are doing everything you can, and that reassurance at the end of the phone can make all the difference. I had a great chat with a head teacher last week who was calling for some advice after a parent had written some rather nasty comments about one of their teaching staff on Facebook. He wanted to know if there was more he could do, he had been made aware of the comments by another parent, and although the comments made for very uncomfortable reading they would not have breached Facebook terms as they were not abusive or threatening. On further investigation, the parent’s comments were posted as a status on her own private Facebook page. Knowing there would be little hope in getting the comments removed by Facebook, the head had invited her in for a chat – had he done the right thing? Yes, I was able to reassure him that while the comments were rude and inappropriate, every parent has the right to be critical of the school and rather than ignoring it completely.  Inviting the parent in shows them that the school care about her concerns and take them seriously, that then also presents an opportunity to talk about their inappropriate use of Facebook. Another thing I was able to suggest was having a closed Facebook page for parents to discuss their grievances may provide the solution in that the parents can still go on to Facebook if they don’t feel comfortable talking about it at pick up time, but that the comments are made in a controlled environment that can be monitored by the teachers.

These are just some of the issues we have been dealing with on the POSH helpline this year.  If you are dealing with something similar to this or feel we might be able to help, please give us a call on 0844 381 4772. We are open between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday or you can email us on We look forward to hearing from you.

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