Last Updated on 23rd September 2022

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Hello and welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites, the podcast that keeps you in the know with weekly updates on the latest safeguarding news, alerts and advice. I’m Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools NI.

Harmful content online is nothing new. But with the recent news about popular internet personality Andrew Tate being removed from social media platforms, there’s been much debate in the press about the kind of online content young people are being exposed to, and the possible influence content like this can have. In response, our online safety experts have published a review of harmful content online, covering who Andrew Tate is, why children and young people are interested in this kind of content and how as parents and safeguarding staff, we can give the best care and support when the children and young people in our care are exposed to harmful content. Find the review at saferschoolsni.co.uk in the ‘Online Safety’ section.

In the news, Meta have announced they are working on an optional feature for Instagram to protect users from receiving unsolicited nude photographs. A recent study showed Instagram’s current filtering tool fails to act upon 90% of image abuse that were sent to high-profile women.

A poll of 1,000 teenagers has found that millions of children are regularly suffering poor mental health. 31% said they have struggled with their mental health and have been doing so for an average of two years. 89% of those struggling also indicated they needed help but were not sure how to access support.

The inquest into Molly Russell’s death by suicide has begun, with the focus likely to fall on the role big tech and social media sites had in her death. The 14-year-old died in 2017 after viewing material about self-harm and suicide on social media sites owned by Meta. Molly’s father, Mr Harrow, is an avid campaigner for online safety and believes the harmful content Molly viewed may have been a major contributor in her death.

A study by De Montford University has found that children under 12 may be losing the equivalent of one night’s sleep a week due to their social media usage. Around two thirds of children are using social media apps two hours before bed and 12.5% were waking up during the night to check their phones.

A report by the NI Children’s Commissioner has found that young people are being overlooked in plans for long-term recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The report, ‘A New and Better Normal’ has recommended helping children in the aftermath of Covid and stated that no child was untouched by the pandemic.

That’s all from me for today, I’ll be back again next week with more news and updates. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with all our safeguarding advice and guidance and get access to a wealth of resources and articles by downloading our free Safer Schools NI App in partnership with the Department of Education. Make sure to follow us on socials by searching for ‘Safer Schools NI’ and until next time, stay safe!

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