Safeguarding young people from sexting

There has been a rise in the number of sexting cases among young people. Many more young people now have access to phones and social media accounts and are engaging in or are affected by sexting. It is much easier for them to send and receive explicit messages and images.

Young people need to understand what sexting is, sending sexually explicit messages and or suggestive images, such as nudes.

Sexting is illegal among children. If a child is under the age of 18, it is illegal for them to take a nude photo of themselves or a friend, as well as distributing them even though the age of consent is 16 years, the Protection of Children Act means it is against the law for a child to share a sexual image.

Images covered under the law include naked pictures, topless photos of girls, any acts and sexual images in underwear. If a young person is found in possession of any of these, has been sending them or taking these types of photos, the Police can record it as a crime.

One of the most effective ways young people can be safeguarded against sexting is to talk to them about it.

Ensure they know what it is, how dangerous it can be and what the results of engaging in sexting are. This could help them make the right choice. If you do find that your child has been sexting, it is possible to get the images removed by contacting the Internet Watch Foundation, which will search for any explicit photos or videos of your child in order to protect them from possible ramifications.

To see how the Internet Watch Foundation can help, visit their website here: www.iwf.org.uk

A Safer Internet

The Internet can be a great place for education, creativity and entertainment.

Young people find social media an important part of everyone life.

In a recent survey carried out for CBBC, Newsround it suggests that more than three quarters of children aged 10 to 12 in the UK have social media accounts, even though they are below the age limit. One in five young people have faced online bullying, and four out of five young people have seen ‘online have’, such as offensive or threatening language.

Another worrying statistic that came out of recent surveys is that thirty seven per cent of 10 – 12 years old with a social media account say they have made friends online with someone they’ve not met in person.

The UK Safer Internet Centre is launching the ‘Creating a Better Internet for All report’ after carrying out research with 1,512 young people aged 3 – 18 years, exploring young people’s attitudes, experiences and responses to positive and negative of being online.

  • 94 per cent of young people believe that no one should be targeted with online hate, however
  • 82 per cent have seen or heard something hateful about certain groups on the Internet.
  • 35 per cent of young people said that online hate is something they worry about, whilst
  • 74 per cent said that online hate makes them more careful about what they share online.

We need to empower young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to ensure they are equipped to deal with online hate.  It is important that young people keep themselves safe online, here is some advice for young people to make the internet a place for kindness and respect.

  • Think about what you are posting, would you say or do this to someone face to face?
  • Be careful of what information you share, if you wouldn’t want to share this will your Grandparent or your Teacher, don’t share it online.
  • Be careful what you chat about, don’t share personal information like your phone number, your address and where you go to school.
  • Keep your private stuff private, use the privacy settings which enable you to choose what information you share.
  • If you are put under pressure its ok to say NO, stop what you are doing and tell a safe, trusted adult, you won’t get into trouble and they will be able to help you.
  • If everyone reports online hate when they see it maybe it can be stopped.

 

Cyber Self Harm… Share your story

A TV production company is hoping to make a short film for BBC Three that tackles the emerging issue of cyber self-harm.  We want to understand why people start trolling themselves on social media, like Ask.fm and Tumblr.  We want to explore what drives someone to write abusive posts about themselves and how it makes them feel seeing these posts written by ‘other people’.  This is a very real problem which affects young men and women across the country but very little is known about it. We want to change that. We want to talk to anyone who has struggled with these issues and who might be interested in being involved in this short film. If you would like to be involved in this project, this can be done either confidentially or not and can be about your own personal experiences of cyber self harm or other examples that you have come across.

If you would like to be involved, or would like more information about this short film, please contact us at info@harmless.org.uk

Being Safe Online

One of our therapists recently attended some training on how to keep safe online. They wanted to share some of information with you that they thought might be helpful.

The internet can be a magical place, but it is important that it is used safely. Everything you do online is captured forever. You wouldn’t leave your front door open to strangers, and so it is important to create a sensible password and use different password for each account.

If you wouldn’t do it face to face, you shouldn’t do it online. You wouldn’t go up to a complete stranger and start a conversation. Remember not to say things online that you wouldn’t talk about in conversations with your family.

Don’t be put under pressure to do something you don’t want to do. Ask yourself ‘Why am I doing this’? If someone cares about you they would not put you under pressure.

Would you put this information on a notice board?

Once it’s gone – it’s gone, and you can lose control of it.

Think before you send and share.

It could affect you or someone else.

If you wouldn’t want your parents to see it, then don’t post it.

Remember it you are under 18 years old. It’s illegal to take or share an indecent picture of yourself, or to look at or share someone else’s.

If you are affected by bullying please talk to someone you can trust for help and support.

In the news… Self-harm fears over parental surveillance of children’s ‘digital life’

Parents who are worried about their children being bullied or self-harming should not operate “surveillance” on their use of mobile phones and the internet, according to new guidance from psychiatrists.

The advice from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on self-harm says parents and health professionals need to take account of an “explosion in digital communication” – especially social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Health workers are urged to undertake “an assessment of a young person’s digital life” to find out how and when they use social media, phones and the internet, when there are concerns about a child’s mental health and a risk of self-harm.

But the guidance says that parents should not snoop on their children’s use of mobile phone or the internet, as this could make things worse, by leaving children feeling they are not trusted.

It also suggests that parents should be positive about the benefits of the online world – or risk young people clamming up and not telling them when they encounter bullying or disturbing images.

Latest figures show more than 22,000 incidents a year in which children and teenagers were treated in hospital for self-harming, with a 30 per cent rise in cases among 10 to 14 year olds in one year. Experts warned that cyberbullying on social networking websites is creating “toxic childhoods” for many children and young people, leaving some feeling they have no escape from pressures on them.

The new guidance for health professionals updates recommendations from 1998, about how to help those at risk of self-harm.

The advice about digital technology is the most significant change in the recommendations.

The report says: “Digital technology, particularly social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, is now a central part of young people’s lives, for information, entertainment and communication.”

The advice states: “It is important for parents to be interested and engaged in their children’s digital lives as early as possible.

“Recognising the benefits of the online world will often help a young person feel more comfortable when talking about difficult online experiences such as bullying or feeling uncomfortable about something they have seen or have been involved with.

“Given the rapidly evolving nature of the online and digital world, trust and communication are likely to be more helpful to the young person than attempts at surveillance, especially given young people’s use of mobile devices.”

Dr Andrew Hill-Smith, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and a member of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists, said all parents should talk to their children about their use of digital media, but should try to avoid snooping.

He said: “When kids are small you can see what they are doing to, but as they get older social media becomes much less visible and much more private. Obviously there has been an explosion in the use of this, and it’s really important that parents try to engage with it and understand as much as they can.”

Snooping on children behind their back was likely to prove counter-productive, he said.

“If you get into surveillance mode, you are creating more tensions and stresses,” he said. “It is better to try and have the conversations and untangle what is going on than to get into autocratic mode,” he said.

Psychiatrists also urged parents to keep an eye on the video games being played by children, with young children often playing violent games which were aimed at much older ages.

Studies suggest that one in 12 teenagers has self-harmed.

Last year, official NHS guidance warned that thousands of children as young as five were suffering from depression, with 8,000 cases among the under 10s.

“Suicide remains the second most common cause of death among young people. Self-harm is an important signal of distress so it needs sensitive responses with careful handling,” Dr Hill-Smith said.

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Date: 7th October 2014

In the News – Web companies under pressure to suppress rising tide of self-harm imagery (Includes comments made by Caroline Harroe, Harmless Director)

Social networks and internet companies are facing mounting pressure to prevent a surge in self-harm fuelled by graphic images and even DIY style advice online. Images of bloodied limbs with open wounds and lacerated torsos which would not look out of place in a war zone are readily available in a disturbing trend triggering some young people to self-harm, The Independent can reveal.

Young people who have harmed themselves to cope with mental distress have told how the internet spurred them on. One accused tumblr of being “a feeding-ground for self-harmers who wish to trigger themselves and become indulged in the addiction”.

And it emerged on Monday that a rising number of children as young as 10 are self-harming. New NHS figures  show the number of children aged between 10 and 14 requiring hospital treatment in England after deliberately hurting themselves has risen 70 per cent in the past two years from 3,800 in 2012 to 6,500 in 2013.

Campaigners have called on internet companies to take urgent action. Lucie Russell, a campaigns director at YoungMinds, said: “They definitely should be taking more action and there are things that they should be looking for and they should be closing down.” We also need to build young people’s “emotional strength” so that they can safely navigate the web, she added.

Caroline Harroe, director at Harmless.org.uk, warned: “We have no doubt that exposure to this sort of content, whether on the internet, social networking, amongst peer groups or forums, will increase the likelihood of self-harm growing amongst our young people.”

She added: “Internet companies do not police content about these issues in a responsible manner with the excuse being freedom of speech.”

And Claire Lilley, the NSPCC’s lead on child safety online, said: “It’s vital that anyone providing a social media channel or other website where self-harm content is shared takes steps to protect their users.”

Rachel Welch, a project director at selfharm.co.uk, said: “Certainly anything that is inciting others to hurt themselves needs to be removed, but we need to strike a balance between allowing people to express themselves and gagging them altogether.”

The issue is far from simple. When used as a force for good, the internet can provide vital support to help people stop harming themselves. But for every well meaning website or blog, there are others which glamorise self-inflicted injuries.

Holly Rabey, 18, from Cornwall, told The Independent: “I used tumblr and youtube to gain advice on how to cut deep and how to take apart razors.” She added: “I’d look up images of other peoples self-harm cuts to essentially trigger myself. A quick search of self-harm on tumblr brings about plenty of images of other peoples self harm which can be a trigger, some people post what they use to harm themselves and how they use it. Tumblr is a feeding ground for self harmers who wish to trigger themselves and become indulged in the addiction.”

And Sarah* commented: “Photos are a very bad idea too it makes self-harming a competition you almost want to be the one who cuts the most.” But others, like Michelle*, claim that pictures help “ride out the urge to self harm” as “it helps to see others with the same cuts, burns and scars as I have, even if they’re not people I know. It makes me feel less alone”.

The concerns over exposure to self-harm imagery and content online comes after Anthony Smythe, a former senior policy adviser at the Department for Education, warned that the web is a “lawless jungle that will soon be too dangerous for children to use” in an interview with The Independent to mark a series of articles this week about the role of the internet in the lives of children and young people.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, said: “Our policies prohibit videos that actively encourage dangerous acts but also try to strike the right balance between enabling people to talk honestly about the issues they have faced.” And a spokesperson for Twitter said: “We don’t have a comment for your story.”

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/web-companies-under-pressure-to-suppress-rising-tide-of-selfharm-imagery-9664887.html

Date: 14th August 2014

In the news: Threefold rise in British children visiting self-harm websites, study reveals

The number of Britons as young as 11 visiting self-harm websites has nearly trebled in three years, according to the most comprehensive study into children and the internet.

As many as 17 per cent of children had seen websites promoting self-harm in 2013, up from 6 per cent in 2010.

Reports of cyber bullying had also risen, from 8 per cent to 12 per cent last year which saw a disturbing number of teenage suicides, including 14-year-olds, Hannah Smith and Izzy Dix, who took their lives as a result of online abuse.

A Europe-wide academic study, Net Children Go Mobile, showed as many as a fifth of 13-year-olds had gone on pro-anorexia sites. The study of 3,500 children aged nine to 16 across seven countries – 500 of them in in the UK – found a quarter admitting they were missing food or sleep to go online.

Professor Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics, who oversaw the study’s British side, said: “No one wants to imagine their kids looking at dodgy sites but things that weren’t on the agenda are rising. Without panicking, we need to broaden our gaze, to talk to our kids about a wider range of online issues.”

Source: www.independent.co.uk

Date: 2nd July 2014

Places still available on our upcoming Cyber-Bullying Training (Tuesday 29th April 2014)

There are still some places left on our upcoming self harm training which focuses on cyber-bullying. More information about this course and how to book can be found below…

Cyber-Bullying: The Challenge Facing the Next Generation - How can we preserve the emotional well being and mental health of our future? Tuesday 29th April 2014 

What this workshop provides?

It is now estimated that over a billion people use Facebook across the globe with other social media sites such as Twitter and You Tube (and many more) now playing a major part in most of our everyday lives. Although some will argue that social media is a positive phenomenon, this workshop will highlight the challenges that face our young people who now have instant access to an increasing number of social sites.

Our training aims to raise awareness and understanding of the issues facing the next generation. It will explore cyber-bullying from the perspective of a young person and the potentially dangerous consequences that social media can have on those who access it. The growing use of apps and smart phones now means most young people have instant access to the internet and social sites 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Do we really know what our children are accessing online and the potential risks involved?

Learning outcomes:

·         We will look at a number of popular social media sites and how they work and the potential risks involved

·         Explore dangers such as online bullying and the links to suicide and self harm

·         Discussion on the importance placed by young people on online ‘life’

·         Highlight the dangers of anonymity

·         There will also be some opportunity to explore other issues around cyber-bullying and ask questions

Price: £60.00 per person

Venue:  Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service

7 Mansfield Road

Nottingham

NG1 3FB

Click here for Map

Time: 9.30am – 1.00pm

Refreshments: Tea and Coffee provided

To book a place on this course, please click here or alternatively you can email training@harmless.org.uk or phone 01159 348 445.