We have continued to see a rise in contacts during the second quarter of 2017, with 40% more contacts compared to the same period in 2016.

Abuse of Privacy

Whilst reputation management issues for schools continue to be the most commonly reported issue on the helpline, we have seen a particular increase (78% based on the same reporting period in 2016) in the number of contacts about abuse of privacy. A major factor in this increase is due to intimate images being shared without consent where voyeurism, coercion, extortion and blackmail may be involved. It’s important to clarify here that these would not be considered Revenge Porn cases as the victims are all under the age of 18.

These cases can be anything from content featuring children under the age of 13 posted without parental consent, to more sinister incidences where patterns of behaviour which shame/ humiliate young people and/ or professionals are used to share private information, impersonate or hack individuals (sometimes all three).

Most commonly used social networking sites will remove this type of content if it is reported as it breaches their community standards. However, increasingly complex cases involve several accounts and pieces of content which will have been shared widely, making it difficult for a victim to regain control of the situation. Extreme incidences have involved harvesting and selling on of intimate images, as well as racist video footage of pre-school children made without parental consent.

Sensationalist News

The media coverage around ‘Blue Whale’ continues, and we have seen a range of misinformation from authoritative bodies being circulated widely. Our own position on the matter remains the same and can be read here.

As we know, Keeping Children Safe in Education states that schools have a duty of care to ‘appropriately monitor’ young people’s internet use on their networks, and we believe that this increased focus on monitoring has contributed to a number of calls to the helpline from schools concerned about searches for content around Blue Whale.

If you’re confused about monitoring, you may find our guide to monitoring blog useful. SWGfL has recently developed its own Assisted Monitoring service, which benefits from working closely with the helpline when potential safeguarding concerns arise. You can read more about the service here.


With the new Digital Economy Act 2017 on the horizon (expected to be in place by April 2018) we are seeing more calls from educational settings about data compliance and their obligations under GDPR. Earlier this year we produced this blog which explains what schools can do to protect themselves under these new regulations.

SWGfL launched 360 Data in 2016, which is specifically designed to help schools review their policies and procedures around data protection and information security so is a great place to start for professionals working in this area.

Whilst this topic is extremely important, we are hearing of instances where designated safeguarding leads are being given the responsibility of data protection without any extra time to allow for this work. As advocates for the safeguarding of young people, we would advise all members of the children’s workforce that their duty of care to young people remains paramount. Any time spent fulfilling GDPR obligations should not come at the expense of young people’s wellbeing.

Complex Cases

The vast range of online safety issues brought to our attention highlights the need for a collaborative approach to working. We continue to work directly with industry partners to help resolve more complex issues, while involvement from local and national agencies and industry play a crucial part in resolving increasingly complex cases. It’s important now, more than ever, that we continue to work together in the pursuit of keeping everyone safer online. 

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