e-Safety and user monitoring solutions for education and the enterprise

How to help youngsters develop a positive body image

Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

A childcare charity has revealed that children as young as three are showing signs of being unhappy with their appearance and bodies.

The study further stated that almost a third of nursery and school staff said they had heard a child label themselves as “fat” while 10 percent of children felt “ugly.” It is upsetting to learn that nearly a quarter of those surveyed said that children aged between three and five were unhappy with their appearance and this figure is almost double for nearly half of six to 10-year-olds. Additionally, more than half of them said girls were more conscious of their looks than boys.

Dr. Jacqueline Harding, Director of Tomorrow’s Child, said: “By the age of three or four some children have already pretty much begun to make up their minds – and even hold strong views – about how bodies should look. There is also research evidence to suggest that some four -year-olds are aware of strategies to lose weight.”

Harding added: “We know for sure that early experiences matter the most and we need to be very careful about how (even inadvertently) we signal to children that they should think negatively about their bodies and how they look.”


Are girls more conscious of their looks than boys?

The Good Childhood Report 2016 conducted by Children’s Society (their fifth in-depth study into children’s well-being) suggests that girls in Britain are becoming unhappier – 14% of girls aged between 10 to 15-years are unhappy with their lives as a whole and 34% with their appearance. However, the study found that boys’ sense of happiness remained stable.

Lucy Capron from the Children’s Society told BBC in a radio interview: “This isn’t something which can be explained away by hormones or just the natural course of growing up, actually this is something that we need to take seriously and we need to address.”

In the same report, each gender was analysed separately to determine what ‘happiness’ meant for both girls and boys.

▪ Happiness with appearance was significantly more strongly associated with emotional problems for girls than boys.

▪ Happiness with life was more strongly associated with emotional problems and behaviour problems for girls than boys.

▪ Happiness with appearance and with life as a whole were significantly more strongly associated with total difficulties scores for girls than boys.

This proves that associations between emotional problems and happiness with appearance and life as a whole, are strongest for girls.

What advice would you give your teenage girls?

Body image expert Nicky Hutchinson said: “It’s this generation. You have to promote yourself all the time, it’s a PR job.”

Hutchinson added that social media has encouraged people to present a personal brand from a young age and to seek reassurance in the form of likes and shares, which undoubtedly amounts to enormous pressure on girls.

Also, the physical changes that teenage girls experience after reaching puberty, makes them feel more self-conscious and the issue escalates when young girls begin comparing themselves with photoshopped images of models and actors. In such situations, parents and teachers have the power to change the way they think and feel.

Here’s how you can help them develop a healthy body image:

Encourage them to express their feelings

Firstly, you need to find out what teens are really thinking about their body image. This makes it easier for you to help them overcome their insecurities and to become more confident about their body. Ask these questions:

  • What is it that you like about your body the most?
  • Which body part would you like to replace?
  • According to you, which celebrity, athlete or a model has an ideal body?
  • Are you satisfied with your body weight and height?


Boost teenage self-esteem

If your teen has a negative body image, then they will also be a victim of low self-esteem and low confidence. In order to boost confidence, ensure that you give compliments and highlight their positive features and traits on a regular basis. Parents and teachers play a very important role in influencing teenagers – your positive words will surely make them feel good and add to their confidence.

Talk about artificial perfection

Youngsters are glued to the internet and television these days and hence begin comparing their own bodies with images of actors and models. You must explain to your teen that everything they watch online or on TV is not entirely true. Talk to them about all the factors that go into making people look like the way they do online/TV, which includes: lighting effects, makeup, camera angles, etc. Furthermore, encourage them to think beyond appearances; body weight, height and skin colour.

Act as a role model

If you really want to make an impact on young people, then you must practice what you preach. Refrain from voicing negative opinions about other people’s appearance, especially words like ‘fat’ and ‘thin’, instead, consider using neutral terms like ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’. The narrative surrounding body image largely determines the way youngsters feel about their own bodies. Changing the way we speak about appearance and body types can have a powerful impact in the long term.

To learn more about safeguarding children online connect with us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

Is inadequate sex education leading to a ‘safeguarding crisis’?

Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

The Shh … No Talking report, published in July this year, suggested that sex and relationship education in UK schools was “unfit” for the smartphone generation, leaving them vulnerable to abuse, bullying and poor mental and sexual health.

The report, which was based on a survey by the Terrance Higgins Trust, revealed insightful stats:

  • Half of the respondents aged 16-24 rated the SRE they had received as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’.
  • 10% of respondents rated it ‘excellent’ and 2% rated it ‘good’.
  • 5% of young people who said they received SRE were taught about LGBT sex and relationships, while 97% believed it should be LGBT-inclusive.
  • Approximately 97% of those who said they received SRE did not recall gender identity being taught and 89% were not taught about sex and pleasure.
  • 61% said they received SRE just once a year or less.
  • 32% of respondents did not remember receiving any information on HIV in schools, while 27% said they did not receive any information on HIV.
  • 99% of young people surveyed thought SRE should be mandatory in schools.

Ian Green, the chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “In this report, we’ve seen the stark reality of SRE in this country and heard saddening stories of how one generation of young people has been exposed to low self-esteem, homophobia, bullying, unhealthy relationships and poor sexual health as a result of the lack of quality SRE in our schools.

“The government’s quiet blocking of compulsory SRE will condemn another generation of young people to leave school armed with little to no information on issues like LGBT relationships, gender identity and consent.”

According to Russell Hobby, the leader of the head teachers’ union the NAHT, the current situation leaves educators open to attack because the government is refusing to make teaching PSHE in school a statutory requirement.
As this article in the BBC reports, Mr Hobby warned the government: “We don’t need you to make PSHE statutory to make teachers do it, but to protect teachers when they do, because otherwise they are vulnerable to accusations that they are pursuing a personal agenda.”

‘We’ve seen really difficult situations where parents who disagree with the philosophies that are being promoted are saying, “You’re doing this, you’re brainwashing our children.”
‘It’s really helpful for professionals on the ground to be able to say, “No, this is a duty, it’s government regulation, and I am doing this as every school in the country is.”
‘By not making [it] statutory, the government is making teachers absorb the controversy when it really should be the government that’s strong enough to absorb that.’

On discussing topics such as homosexuality, Mr Hobby explained that this is an area where parents might not see eye-to eye with teachers.

“These are controversial topics which our society doesn’t wholly agree on, and teachers have to be quite brave sometimes in tackling them. We should have their backs when they do that and not leave them alone to deal with challenges.”

He added that parents may want to withdraw children from lessons or could make “aggressive challenges” against teachers.

What’s your take on the issue? Do you think that the current SRE and PSHE curriculum adequately prepares children and young adults? Does it provide them with useful and accurate information about sex and sexual health? To join the conversation about safeguarding children, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.


How to protect your child with parental controls?

Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Keeping children safe from the potential dangers of the Internet has become a priority for parents across the world. It is impossible to physically supervise the kind of content children are accessing on the internet, given the fact that in most families both the parents are away at work for the better part of the day. This makes online safety a veritable challenge and has become one of the most common concerns in every household today.

Setting parental controls is therefore the best way to ensure your children stay protected. . . Parental controls are filters that block offensive sites and prevent children from being able to view inappropriate content.

How parental functions control online activities:

  • Stipulate time limits on your children’s Internet use
  • Determine the type of games that can be accessed
  • Forbid the use or viewing of specific programs
  • Monitor content that children are browsing online
  • Set profiles to match individual family members and the level of access to be granted to each one

Types of parental controls

There are three types of controls parents can use – networking, device and application controls.

  1. Network controls are applied to the main hub and cover all the devices connected to that hub or router. These are also referred to as ‘whole home filters, as they control the content on any device that is hooked on to the home router.
  1. Device controls are set on specific devices and apply wherever that device is connected to the Internet, regardless of the location. Most gaming consoles come with controls that can be enabled to restrict access to inappropriate content, giving parents the ability to decide what they will permit their child to be exposed to.
  1. Application controls are enabled on platforms that are most commonly used, for example Google, Bing or You Tube. All major search engines have filters that can be set up to block access to adult sites and explicit content that you wouldn’t want your child to come across while browsing online. Another way to achieve this is by promoting the use of child friendly search engines such as Swiggle and Safe Search UK.

A check-list of parental controls

  • Enable home broadband parental controls
  • Activate controls on search engines
  • Protect each and every device used by your child (home and hand held)
  • Adjust privacy settings on social networking sites that filter unsuitable advertisements in feeds
  • Block pop-ups to prevent unsuitable content from sneaking in

How effective are parental controls?

Filtering content is not the only way to promote internet safety – ongoing conversations are just as important. The best way to protect your children from the potential dangers of the Internet is by talking to them and keeping them informed about the risks posed by the online world and how it could impact their lives. These family discussions prove to be the most effective when it comes to instilling a sense of right and wrong and in ensuring that children make the correct choices.

If you would like to know more about e-safety or safeguarding children online, then join the conversation on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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