Last Updated on 20th December 2022

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Hello and welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites – the mini podcast from Safer Schools NI that gives you this week’s round-up of safeguarding news, alongside all the latest updates and advice from our safeguarding team. My name’s Iain Jones, let’s get started!

This week held Global Accessibility Awareness Day – a day to reflect on and consider online accessibility and digital access. Although much onus is on how tech companies and online platforms create and design their products, there are changes we can all make to be more inclusive online. Visit saferschoolsni.co.uk to find out what you can change today.

Do the young people in your care play Apex Legends? This online multiplayer game is a free-to-play battle royale style videogame. Unlike the similar game Fortnite which has a PEGI rating of 12+, Apex Legends is 16+. We took a look at what young people love about the game, plus outlined some of the safeguarding risks you may need to be aware of. You’ll find that on our website saferschoolsni.co.uk.

In the news, the Online Safety Bill continues to face criticism from campaigners and organisations. This week women’s organisations and charities said the Bill doesn’t do enough to adequately address online violence against women and released a draft code of practice for the bill that focuses on the prevention of violence and underlying causes, rather than removing content.

An open letter was also written for the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary, asking for amendments to the Bill that will mean tech giants are compelled to share more data about the impact of their content along with evidence of risks and give Ofcom more power to hold platforms to account. The group of over 40 charities, campaigners and academics who signed the letter also criticised that, in its current form, companies would still be in control of what data they’re sharing to independently be scrutinised. You can learn more about what the Online Safety Bill is by searching saferschoolsni for ‘online safety bill’.

Childline has reported that the number of counselling sessions around exam anxiety has almost doubled in the last seven months, with more than 200 counselling sessions taking place in March 2022. If you’re worried about the stress of exams on the child or young person in your life, you can find advice about how to help by searching our online safety section for ‘exam stress’.

The Department of Education has announced that funding for so-called ‘holiday hunger’ payments is still not in place. The payments that cover the equivalent costs of free school meals during the summer holidays, needs agreement from the Executive to help the approximately 98,000 eligible children in Northern Ireland.

That’s everything from me for this week – join us again next week when we’ll bring you more safeguarding news and advice. In the meantime, we’d love to connect with you on social media – just search for ‘Safer Schools NI’, or you can get in touch with us via our website at saferschoolsni.co.uk. Have a great week and I’ll see you next time.

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