Safer Internet Day: Advice from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline

01 Feb 2024 UK SIC

As Safer Internet Day approaches, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline is encouraging professionals to start discussions with children and young people about what they like and don’t like about their online experiences.  It is important to be aware that these conversations, while important, may also lead towards disclosures or incidents that will need escalating along with an appropriate safeguarding response.

Disclosures can vary but may involve incidents of online harm that relate to the child or a friend at school. Find out some of the advice provided by the Professionals Online Safety Helpline about how you can approach these conversations.

Create an Open Discussion

When a child or young person discloses information, it is important to remain calm and to listen. Staying calm will help the child to feel more comfortable when sharing information with you.

In many cases, children and young people feel more comfortable discussing their issues online. However, it is important to try to engage with them in person, particularly if they have reported an incident online.

Ask for Help

As a professional, it is normal to reach out for help if a child has told you something you are unsure about, as you won’t always know the answers and correct guidance to best support a young person. While looking for support, it is essential to reassure the child that their concerns have been heard and that you will find support to help deal with the situation.

Give Young People Space and Time

When discussing an incident with a young person, allow them time to express themselves without asking leading questions. It is important for them to feel that they have the freedom to share their thoughts and concerns without any pressure.

Acknowledge Their Courage

Recognising the bravery and courage exhibited by the young person by confiding in you is important. Even if their experiences seem unfamiliar to you, validating their feelings and acknowledging that you believe them is crucial. Their decision to confide in you is significant.

Look After Yourself

As a professional, you must also be mindful of the potential impact that disclosures can have on your own wellbeing.  Reflecting on these situations can lead to personal insights that can enhance your approach when handling similar situations in the future. If you need emotional support, the Education Support Helpline can provide free, immediate and confidential support.

Get Involved with Safer Internet Day

This year’s Safer Internet Day is based around the theme ‘Inspiring change? Making a difference, managing influence and navigating change online.’ The latest advice from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline will support all professionals looking to create discussions around this year’s theme.

If you’re looking for more advice, support or ideas on how else you can get involved with Safer Internet Day 2024, the Safer Internet Day website is full of free resources, educational films and engaging quizzes that you can use.

Finally, don’t forget to register as a Safer Internet Day supporter! By sharing your organisation’s details and outlining your plans for the day, you not only join a nationwide network of supporters but also earn a certificate to proudly display in your setting. Register your support here.

Contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline

Any professional working with children and young people can get in touch with any online safety concern that they, or the person in their care, may be having. The Helpline provides confidential and free advice and can be contacted between Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm, by calling 0344 381 4772 or by emailing helpline@saferinternet.org.uk.