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Contextual safeguarding

Online safety

What are the key risks relating to online safety?

Who they’re talking to.

  • this includes grooming and cyberbullying

What they’re seeing.

  • innocent searches can lead to not so innocent results
  • children are often a few clicks away from inappropriate/harmful content
  • consider what’s age-appropriate for your child

What they’re ‘oversharing’.

  • personal information, location and nude images/videos
  • remember that when young people share online, it may never be fully private

What are the signs of online abuse?

  • children may not know what’s happening to them, so the signs may not always be obvious
  • sudden, unexplained changes are usually an indication that something’s wrong

See details of information and resources relating to online safety:

We're working with the NSPCC and a range of partners to bring a new online safety campaign to York.

The York Online Safety Campaign has been working to support professionals, parents and carers to help keep children safe in their online world, to help them feel confident in talking about online safety with the children they know and work with, so that they in turn know that they can always talk to someone about anything that is worrying them.

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Children love spending time exploring online.

The internet’s a great place for children to learn, create, chat with friends and family, access information or support and explore fun apps, sites and games. But exploring comes with risks, so it’s vital we know how to help keep them safe online.

The NSPCC offers free online safety virtual workshops, Keeping Children Safe Online, both virtually and face to face for groups.

The Keeping Children Safe Online workshop will:

  • help you understand how kids experience the online world
  • show you resources and tools that could help keep them safe
  • empower you to guide them on their journey

Book a free online safety group workshop.

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Talk PANTS helps children aged 3 to 11 understand that their body belongs to them, and they should tell someone they trust if anything makes them feel upset or worried.

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The Talk Relationships elearning course from NSPCC Learning supports secondary education settings to be places that foster healthy relationships and help keep young people safe from abuse.

Talk Relationships offers 14 lessons plans developed in partnership with the PSHE Association and a dedicated helpline, where NSPCC experts will offer help and advice to any teacher with a question or safeguarding concern.

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Do you know your TikTok from your Snapchat? Whether you’re a teacher, social worker or volunteer, you need to feel confident in knowing how to keep children safe online and respond appropriately if a child comes to you with a concern.

NSPCC Learning can offer an online safety course which, developed in association with NCA-CEOP Education, the child protection unit of the National Crime Agency, will help you learn about topics including new and emerging online harms, sex and relationships online and online bullying.

Please note there is a cost for this course.

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Young people across York have created a Social Media Guide to provide their peers with information and advice about using social media safely.

In partnership with City of York Council, child and adolescent development psychology experts at York St John University ran workshops with young people (aged between 11 and 18 years) to understand how young people stay safe on social media. The workshops were run with young people across different settings (including schools and youth groups) within the city of York.

The workshops focused on:

  • positive and negative uses of social media
  • understanding control in social media environments
  • the creation of strategies to “stay safe” online

The workshops were designed to be fun, engaging and creative. Importantly, they encouraged positive and discouraged negative aspects of social media use.

Following these workshops, a number of resources have been developed to share with young people around staying safe on social media, as well as a pack for schools or any other professional working with young people with all the material they need in order to deliver their own social media safety workshop including:

The pack includes practical resources that you need to deliver the social media safety workshops in your classes, including:

The pack also includes resources for young people to take away:

By delivering the workshops within your setting, you will be able to create resources specific to the social media use of the young people in your setting.

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Online Safety issues are challenging and complex. However, key advice for parents and teachers is simple - start the conversation.

The overriding message recently heard from children by research conducted by the Children's Commissioner is that adults should talk early and talk often. Children told them they want adults to create a safe, judgement free space for them to talk about these issues, both at home and in school. Children also want to be able to trust adults to help them if something goes wrong.

Top tips for speaking to children and young people about online

Start a conversation:

An open and honest conversation is often the first step in keeping your child safe online, it also plays an important role in supporting them if something has gone wrong.

Talk to your child about what has happened, how they feel about it, and what the next steps are for you to take as a family.

Keeping your child in the loop about what you are going to do to resolve the situation can help them to feel in control of it and can help them to feel like they can come to you with any future problems.

Be curious, not furious:

Remaining calm and asking questions like ‘how did you get to that?’ or ‘what did you click on?’ will help you to understand how the content has appeared in the first place.

Children will often remember the immediate response from an adult - remaining calm and open will show them that you are someone they can turn to for help.

Try not to place blame:

It may be that your child has clicked on something by mistake or even gone looking for the content on purpose, either way, it is still important to remain calm and be supportive.

Children are curious and may hear about things from others that they later search for without realising what they will be exposed to.

Practical tips for starting a conversation about life online

As a parent or carer, one of the most important things you can do to help keep your children safe online is talk to them. It can be difficult to know how to start these conversations, so we’ve come up with some top tips.

Be positive and open minded about the internet:

It’s important to recognise the exciting opportunities that going online can offer children and young people.

Although your children may use the internet differently to you, their experiences are still significant.

If your child mentions something you haven’t heard of, ask them to show you, or explain in more detail, or you may need to do your own research.

Try to keep conversations broad, and value their opinions when they’re talking about what they enjoy doing, to show that you are interested in all aspects of their online world.

Talk early and often:

The most effective way to deal with any online issue is to make conversations about the internet a part of your everyday routine.

Talking openly about life online from an early age, can be a helpful bridge to sharing safety messages and addressing more difficult conversations later; it also shows your child that you are someone who knows about the internet and can help them.

Create a safe space for conversations:

Look for opportunities to talk together. Sometimes, talking face-to-face can feel difficult, so talking alongside each other when out for a walk, or travelling in the car for example, are options that might make it easier.

The environment needs to be right; free from distractions, so that your child has your undivided attention. Remind them often that they can talk to you about anything, no matter how difficult, and that they will not be judged or blamed.

Your child might not be ready to talk about something straight away, so show them that you are there to listen whenever they are ready.

Keep it relevant:

As they get older, your children will use technology differently from when they first went online. Their knowledge and understanding will grow too, as will the challenges they may face on the internet.

To get a sense of how much they know and what support they still need, ask open-ended questions to let your child lead the conversations you have.

There are appropriate ways to approach all online safety topics with different ages. For example, with a teenager, nude images can be spoken about in wider conversations around consent and healthy relationships.

For younger children, you could discuss what types of images are okay to share online, and what areas of our bodies are private.

Be proactive:

Working together to create an agreement, outlining how the internet and technology will be used within the family, is a useful way to set clear expectations and boundaries for your children.

You might include time spent online; who your children can communicate with; appropriate apps and games; and why safety tools are helpful to block and report inappropriate content.

Ask your child what they would do if something went wrong online and they needed help and reinforce the importance of telling an adult as soon as anything happens that makes them feel upset, worried, or uncomfortable in any way.

How to talk about difficult topics

  • plan what you want to say in advance and seek support and information if needed so that you feel prepared
  • choose a moment when there are no other distractions, and you are not rushed for time but acknowledge that they might not feel ready to speak straight away
  • consider the best approach to anticipate how your child might react. You might want to directly explain the concerns that led to the conversation or feel that asking some broader questions might be more suitable in the first instance
  • give your child time to process what you are saying and share their thoughts, without interruption or blame. Listen carefully to any confusion or concerns
  • share your own experiences if you can. Were you ever in a similar situation and how was it resolved?
  • reassure them you are always there to help and even if you don’t know the answers, you can find these out together
  • get support quickly if they need it. This might be from family, friends, your child’s school or other agencies

My child has said something worrying - what do I do?

  • let them explain in their own words what has happened
  • remain composed. If you are feeling shocked, angry, or worried, it’s likely that your child is feeling worse, but reacting that way may close down the conversation and lead your child to believe that they are to blame
  • acknowledge the challenges they have overcome and let them know that they’ve done the right thing by telling you
  • be honest. It’s okay if you are unsure what to do next, the important thing is to let your child know you are there for them. There is a lot of further support out there to help you decide on your next steps
  • save the evidence wherever possible. You may be able to report what has happened to the online service being used when the incident occurred. Evidence may include screen shots taken on a laptop or mobile device, emails, texts, or online conversation histories
  • make a report as soon as possible. Knowing who to report to is a useful step to resolving many issues, so try to familiarise yourself with the reporting, blocking or moderating settings available on the services your child is using. Depending on what has happened, it might be necessary to let your child’s school know too, or other agencies such as the police

Have proactive conversations early and often, ideally when a child is given their first device or open their own social media account - whichever comes first.

The following resources are available:

MCF is a highly respected charity specialising in the field of raising awareness of online sexual abuse, training professionals and supporting victims. MCF is passionate about advocating for children who have suffered online sexual abuse and exploitation, encouraging and supporting them and their families to survive and recover and empowering them to go on to live safe and fulfilling lives.

NWG is also a charity formed as a network of over 14,500 practitioners across the UK who disseminate information to fellow professionals working on the issue of child exploitation. Its team comprises specialists with a range of skills who proactively engage other organisations by sharing, and seeking, effective practice to better protect children.

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The UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) have published new guidance for professionals on how to challenge victim blaming language and behaviours when dealing with the online experiences of children and young people.

This guidance is aimed at professionals in education settings working with children and young people. It aims to help them better understand, recognise and respond to victim blaming language and behaviour within their settings when discussing or responding to the online experiences of children and young people.

It describes the language, attitudes and behaviours that can be considered victim blaming when talking about the online experiences of children and young people. It encourages professionals to think critically about their own or others’ language and behaviour, its impact and the ways they should be challenged.

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If anyone has any concerns in relation to online safety then support is available in a number of ways:

Children can contact Childline counsellors on telephone: 0800 1111, or through the Childline website, which also includes information and advice around online safety, and moderated message boards where they can speak to other young people about their concerns.

Adults with concerns about online safety can phone the NSPCC Helpline on telephone: 0808 8005000, or email: [email protected], or visit the NSPCC website.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub

If you have concerns about a child or looking for support, please contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in York.

The MASH is a multi-agency team made up of representatives from a range of services, including Social Care, Early Help, Police and Health Professionals and is a single point of contact for all concerns about children. This partnership approach will make it easier to get children, young people and families to get the right level of support as quickly as possible. Agencies should always notify the family that you are contacting MASH and sharing your concerns, unless you feel it would place the child at significant risk of harm.


West Offices
Station Rise

Outside office hours, at weekends and on public holidays contact the emergency duty team on telephone: 0300 131 2131.

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A number of organisations provide information and resources relating to online safety.


Barnado's offer a number of resources for online safety.


Support for children and young people is available through Childline on telephone: 0800 1111, or on the Childline website.

You can share experiences and get peer support on the Childline message boards.

See Childline’s advice about online and mobile safety to learn how to stay safe online:

Watch films on lots of different topics on Childline’s YouTube Channel, aimed at young people aged 13 to 18


Childnet is an interactive safety programme website for schools, young people, parents and agencies.

Children’s Society

The Children’s Society spread the word of online safety and working with children at risk of being groomed online.

Internet Watch Foundation

The Internet Watch Foundation is the UK hotline for reporting illegal Internet content.

It's not OK

The "It’s not ok" campaign took place during 2015/16 as a joint initiative between CYSCP, NSPCC and York St John University to raise awareness of CSA and CSE across the city with public and professionals.

The materials created during the campaign are still used in schools and the campaign was nationally acclaimed.

The It’s Not Ok play and workshop have now been turned into new digital resources for secondary schools, community groups and practitioners.

North Yorkshire Police

North Yorkshire Police can support with generic school inputs, which can be requested through your local neighbourhood police team on email: [email protected].

If a school requires direct targeted intervention with an individual or small group, you can discuss with your local School Liaison Officer on email: [email protected].


The NSPCC provide a range of advice and resources relating to online safety:

For more information and advice, contact the NSPCC’s trained helpline practitioners, you can call the NSPCC Helpline on telephone: 0808 800 5000.

Online Safety Commission report

The Children's Commissioner for England has published a report in March 2023 around Online Safety which involved 9 months of research and speaking to Young People.

Online safety for deaf children

National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) resources:

British Deaf Association (BDA) resources:

Parent Zone

Parent Zone provides up-to-date, expert information for parents on a range of concerns they may have about children and young people, which is designed for schools to post on their own website.

Reporting sites

Contact Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) if you’re concerned about someone making inappropriate or sexual contact with a child online

Report sexual images and videos of children shared online to the Internet Watch Foundation.

Report anything online which causes someone distress or harm to Report Harmful Content.

If you believe a child is immediate risk of harm then call 999.

Report Remove

Report Remove is a tool that allows young people under the age of 18 to report a sexual image or video of themselves that’s been shared online, to see if it’s possible to get it taken down.

The service is provided by Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation.

The Report Remove tool can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. The IWF will then review this content and work to have it removed if it breaks the law.


SafeKids is an internet safety resource for children.

Think U Know

Think U Know is a website aimed at children and young people provided by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. It contains useful information about how to stay safe online.

UK Safer Internet Centre

The UK Safer Internet Centre helps children and young people to stay safe online.

Young Minds

Contact Young Minds crisis messenger (Text YM to 85258) or visit the Young Minds website for advice about mental health.

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