A new internet safety resource for professionals seeking on advice on safeguarding children online will be launched at a conference at the Scottish Police College today (Friday 1 March).
The one day event, organised by WithScotland and the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre’s Youth Justice National Development Team, will give professionals such as social workers, police officers, teachers, psychologists and youth workers access to the very latest research and evidence on how to reduce the risk of significant harm through online behaviour.
The internet safety resource comprises of a series of online factsheets and briefings, which were created by WithScotland (the national resource hosted by University of Stirling which supports child protection practice, policy and research) following high demand from professionals for materials on risks associated with internet safety.
WithScotland Director, Beth Smith, said: “The Internet has broadened many aspects of our lives in untold positive ways. For children it provides incredible opportunities to learn, socialise and play, yet it also brings new risks and dangers into their lives.
“Practitioners increasingly have to help children and young people balance risks and opportunities online, recognising the realities of sexual offending and online sexually problematic behaviours. Our new factsheets will help provide the latest information for professionals when making judgements in these increasingly complex and fast-paced areas.”
The factsheets are free to download from the WithScotland website and cover topics such as Cyberbullying, Safer Social Networking, Online Gaming, Sexting, Pornification and Sexualisation.
The chair of the event, Colin McKerracher, Chief Constable of Grampian Police, said: “Monitoring and managing children's internet use needs to be relevant to the child or young person's age and stage of development as well as to social and ecological factors, such as vulnerability. Children are starting to use the internet at increasingly younger ages. Parents have a key role in online safety and protection this as children use the internet mostly at home. Internet access is on the rise, particularly among older children, and devices used to access the internet are diversifying so professionals and parents must stay alert to new dangers.”
As well as a series of workshops, the event will feature a number of expert talks:
Internet sex offenders: key messages from research Tony Beech, Professor in Criminological Psychology, University of Birmingham
Adolescence, new technologies and sexual abuse Ethel Quayle, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh.
New technologies and child protection: a Scottish perspective Assistant Chief Constable Malcom Graham, Major Crime and Public Protection, Police Scotland.
Welcoming the conference, Professor Bill Whyte, Director of the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland, said: “The task of social work practitioners in the fields of child protection and criminal justice, whose overarching priority will always be to ensure the safety of children and young people and to manage associated risks, has undoubtedly become more complex with the spread of new technologies and the ubiquity of the internet. Today’s conference aims to bring experts and practitioners together to share learning, to increase awareness and to confront these challenges in a robust and realistic fashion.”
Download copies of the Internet Safety Resources here