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What you need to know about online grooming

online grooming
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

Crimes against children continue to make headlines in the newspapers. In fact, any kind of child abuse (physical or emotional) has become so common that it’s a part of the “news” on a regular basis. Despite that, many parents and teachers still struggle to fully understand what online grooming is, its effect on their children, or how to prevent it.

We will delve into the details of online grooming, but let’s look at how you can identify whether your child has become a victim of online grooming. Generally, most children who are victimised find themselves addicted to the internet or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You will notice that your child is using the internet excessively and unreasonably. Also, ask yourself:

  • Has your child become more secretive about who they are talking to online?
  • Has your child engaged in any sexual behavior online or via text, chat or webcam?
  • Have they got any electronic devices/gifts that they may not have been able to obtain themselves?

What is Online Grooming?

Online grooming is the process by which an adult with an inappropriate sexual interest in children will approach a child online, to foster a relationship with the intent to meet them in person and intentionally cause harm.

The ultimate goal of an internet predator is to encourage children to participate in sexual activities. This may include: exposing themselves on a webcam, emailing suggestive photographs of themselves or meeting the predator in person, becoming the victim of direct sexual abuse.

According to the European online grooming project there are three types of online groomers:

Typology of online groomers

Intimacy-seeking

The groomers in this group do not have any previous convictions for sexual offending, but are known to have contacted young people for a consenting relationship. They do not have any indecent images of children and spend a significant time talking to children online before developing an intimate relationship.

Adaptable style

They have previous convictions for sexual offending against children. Unlike the group above, they do not attempt to build any kind of a ‘relationship’ with children. The key feature of adaptable groomers is that they adapt their identity and grooming style according to how a child is presented online and react to their initial contact. This group is also known to keep hidden folders, extra phones and they are very careful about making any development, it’s either quickly or slowly.

Hyper-sexual

These types of groomers maintain a record of indecent images of children, adult pornography and make significant online contact with other sexual offenders. They adopt different identities and conceal their identity on any social media platform. Their contact with children is highly sexual and escalates very quickly.

Typology of children victimised

  • Children who need attention and affection
  • Complicated relationship with parents
  • Seeking ‘love’ online – they often believe they have true relationships with a groomer
  • Resist disclosure – they want to continue the relationship

Tactics groomers use to con your children

Tactic Intent
“Let’s go private.” Engage in private conversation through a separate chat room
“Where’s your computer in the house.” Determine if parents or caregivers are in close proximity
“Who’s your favorite band? Designer? Film?” To discover what types of gifts to offer
“I know someone who can get you a modelling job.” Flattery
“You seem sad. What’s bothering you?” Show sympathy to encourage child to confide in groomer
“I know a way you can earn money fast. You don’t have to depend on your parents.” To tempt children to earn their own money, especially if the groomer understands that the family is in financial difficulties
“What’s your phone number?” To establish an offline contact
“You’re the love of my life.” To make children feel special

Is your internet security up to date?

We must begin to re-think the way our children are using the ‘internet’ and ‘mobile phones’ these days. It is startling to note that the number of children using mobile phones in the UK have risen significantly. According to a study conducted by Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, UK – Smart phone ownership has increased by 21% among 12-15 year olds in just a year. With built-in cameras, these devices and a new generation of apps are giving children the ability to easily communicate with strangers online and share images on the move.

Talking about why it’s important to educate children on e-safety, Claire Lilly, safer internet lead at the NSPCC, said: “Children may be targeted because of their vulnerability but any child can be a victim. What is apparent is that parents’ and carers’ can make that vital difference in whether or not a child becomes a victim of these ruthless predators online.”

Lilly also added: “The internet is part and parcel of young lives and most can’t remember a world before it existed. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle, but we can talk to young people and educate them on staying safe online just as we do about stranger danger or drugs.”

We’re here to ensure your children are safe and secure online, contact us to find out more about how we can help.

How Can we reduce the use of drugs on school premises?

drugs on school premises
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

The first tryst with drugs for children usually begins in their adolescence period. They perceive experimenting with tobacco, smoking and alcohol as thrilling or daring, or engage in it to “fit in” to their peer groups at school. This is why schools play an important role in educating students about the harmful effects of drugs, encouraging them to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The Government of UK released a report in 2012 that highlighted the role of schools in promoting  pupil’s wellbeing. The Department for Education and the Association of Chief Police Officers, now the National Police Chiefs Council, produced data that can help answer some of the most common questions raised by schools in relation to drugs. Giving more insight into what can be defined as drugs, the document indicated that alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, new psychoactive substances and volatile substances should be confiscated in school premises.

To support schools in preventing the use of drugs on school premises, the UK Government’s Drug Strategy 2010 stated that the school staff must have the information, advice and power to:

  • Provide students with accurate information on drugs and alcohol through education and targeted information.
  • Identify problem behavior in schools and learn to tackle them.
  • Seek help from other local voluntary organisations, health partners, the police and others to prevent drug/alcohol misuse.

Creating safe and drug-free school zones

  1. Every school must have a drug policy in place that clearly illustrates their role and views in relation to all drug matters, and ensures that it’s consistent with the school’s safeguarding policy. The policy must include the management of drugs and medicines within school boundaries and during school excursions.
  2. Assign the responsibility of organising and managing the drug policy to a senior member of staff within the school.
  3. Before you develop a drug policy, consult the whole school community including students, parents/carers, staff, governors and partner agencies.
  4. Although most schools are a smoke-free site, keep the children, staff, parents and the governors involved in the development and implementation of a smoke-free site.
  5. The policy must also include a statutory warning that states: illegal and other unauthorised drugs are not acceptable within the school boundaries.

What do the statistics tell us?

An article published in the DailyMail exposed shocking facts about how young people (as young as 11) in the UK are beginning to get addicted to drugs. There are probably 400,000 under-16s that are now regularly taking drugs. The survey was conducted among 18,000 pupils at 67 schools. Another finding that startled many people in the UK was that – many teenagers now consider ‘drugs’ as an integral part of their music and dance culture and an automatic norm of growing up.

“The dramatic increase in usage of drugs at the ages of 13 and 14 is a central feature of substance abuse and preventative work could usefully be focused on the years preceding these age groups. These findings are a cause for concern,” admitted Researcher Jeremy Gluck.

He also added that fewer than half the children who admitted using drugs were regarded as having “high self-esteem”, but nearly one in six of the users were recorded as having “low self-esteem.”

Whilst Mary Brett from the National Drug Prevention Alliance emphasised the importance of telling our children the truth about drugs – “cannabis is not harmless but a gateway drug that does lead on to other and worse drugs.”

Brett added, “children should not just be told to say no. They should be told why – how drugs affect not just your body, but your social and economic future.”

But, where are they getting the drugs from?

With the advent of the internet, many young people use their laptops and mobile phones for chatting, socialising or playing games. But did you know, digital peer pressure and online drug marketing could encourage your students to experiment with drugs?

The Global Drug Survey has designed and published a graph chart that showed how many people bought drugs on the internet in 2014. It’s considered to be the biggest survey of drug use ever and was published in eight languages and promoted in 17 countries. – These included:  USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, Slovenia and Brazil.

To safeguard your pupils online and monitor their digital footprints, connect with Securus to receive alerts on any misuse of your computer systems.

 

How to help your students find the right subjects to study

helping students choose subjects
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Certainly, every single child is talented in their own way. But teachers in schools play a pivotal role in helping them identify that skill, to develop it and empower them to achieve.

The 2011Education Act puts more emphasis on the responsibility of schools in this area. It states:

“The responsible authorities for a school in England must ensure that all registered pupils at the school are provided with independent careers guidance during the relevant phase of their education.”

Agreed, a large part of the decision-making on choosing which subjects to study depends on the pupil – ultimately, only they can draw a clear picture about the kind of life they would like to lead in the future. However, most of them choose their subjects based on the advice and guidance they get from teachers.

Therefore, it is important for schools and teachers to guide their pupils to take the first step on the path of their potential future career.

How can schools be prepared?

A survey conducted by the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England revealed that a fifth of students were unable to choose one or more subjects that they wished to study. In most cases the school did not offer those subjects.

Here are some tips for teachers to help pupils choose their secondary school subjects:

  1. Research online to learn more about the career paths of people your children admire, and also look for resources and other opportunities for finding more information about their careers.
  1. Every teacher should encourage students to talk about their subject choices and career path. You could also talk to parents/carers, friends and neighbours that will help give you a better understanding of your students’ interests.
  2. Organise talks and discussions by inviting ex-pupils to the school, and ask them to share their experiences about making subject choices.
  1. Although you want your students to choose subjects that will help them have a successful career, they should also consider what they really enjoy and are passionate about.

Things your students need to know before making their A-level subject choices

Making the right A-level choices can be a nail biting task for students.  Some already know what career path they want to take, and if your student is one of these, then here are some common careers with suggestions for related A level subjects:

  • Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary or Dentistry pathway: Chemistry, Maths, Biology, Psychology.
  • Engineering Pathway: Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Product Design, Engineering
  • Public administration pathway: English Literature, History, Politics, Sociology.
  • Business and Accountancy pathway: Business/Accounting, Economics, Law, MFL
  • Journalism pathway: English Language, English Literature, Politics, Psychology
  • Teaching, police, social work pathway: English, Sociology, Psychology, Health & Social Care
  • Expressive arts pathway: Art, Drama and Theatre Studies, Film Studies, English Literature.
  • Environmental pathway: Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Studies, Geography.

Which subjects do your students enjoy the most?

Rarely is there a student who jumps out of bed every morning desperate to get to school. But it’s almost impossible to come across a student who has never really enjoyed that “one” subject or class in school. So, whichever subject your students like the most, encourage them to pursue it further. For the simple reason that they enjoy studying it, which also encourages them to work harder, and ultimately achieve better grades.

The Internet today provides access to a growing pool of research and insight sources – it certainly helps the students to choose their favorite subjects to study. However, you might also want to ensure that they don’t land up on an offensive or an illegal site. We have a solution for you – follow us on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn to find out  more about how to safeguard your students online.

 

 

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