When we present in schools, we not only talk to children but to parents as well. We are keen to take a ‘whole school’ approach, as so much of preventing grooming requires a community effort, including friends, siblings, parents and teachers.
When we talk to parents, we teach them how to spot signs of grooming, and also tell them about useful websites and organisations that can help them with more detailed queries. This is the bit where I always encourage the parents to get their phones out and take a picture of the whitescreen, as you never know when you might need to use one of these links. Below are a few of my favourite sites that you might find helpful too.
Common Sense Media This is a brilliant website for helping you decide whether a game or film is appropriate for your children. As we know, every game or film has an age rating, but some children mature at different rates so it can be hard to know whether that shoot-em-up they’re clamouring for is actually ok, or if it’s a definite no-no. Common Sense Media is made up of reviews not only by the Common Sense team, but also by parents and children. This gives the most balanced view possible and also gives a level of detail about the films and games that enable you to make a more informed decision.
Internet Matters A great website for finding the nitty gritty detail about so many things: how to set the controls on the Xbox for optimum privacy; what to do if your child has come across inappropriate content; the lowdown on sexting, pornography, radicalisation, cyberbullying, screen time and more. All in a no-nonsense and easy-to-access format. I use it all the time – it's kept up to date well and responds to news stories in a timely way.
UK Safer Internet Centre This is a collaboration of three organisations: Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and SWGfL. Its mission is to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people. On the website you can find advice and support from the Awareness Centre, a helpline to provide support to professionals working with children and young people with online safety issues. You can also find details of how to report (anonymously, if you wish) child sexual abuse imagery and videos, wherever they are found in the world.
ThinkUKnow A great resource for both parents and children, ThinkUKnow covers all the topics that are on children’s and teens’ minds, from sex and relationships to drugs and alcohol. The site is in fact several different sites that offer age-appropriate information; the first question that is asked as you arrive on the home page is your age, so that you end up in the best area of the website for you. The interface is clear and accessible and the kinds of questions that might have caused you to access the website in the first place are foremost and quickly answered (“I’d like information about keeping my child safe”; “I’m concerned about my child”, and so on).
Those are my top four. If you have any other great sites we should know about please drop us a line and tell us!