Last Updated on 11th November 2022

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Hello and welcome back to Safeguarding Soundbites! If you’re new around here, this is the small but mighty podcast that brings our listeners up to speed on the safeguarding news you need to help keep the children and young people in your life stay safer online.

I hope you enjoyed your half-term break, we’ve lots to catch up on so let’s take a look at what’s been hitting the headlines.

This week, we published a safeguarding alert after reports of explicit sexualised content had recently been broadcast on popular livestreaming platform Twitch. Although this form of content is banned from the platform, there are concerns about how effective the platform’s safety measures are in safeguarding against inappropriate and harmful content. Due to the potential risks, we advise you to visit the Safer Schools NI website and app to read our safeguarding alert on Twitch.

Next week is Anti-Bullying Week. According to Ofcom, 4 in 10 children in the UK between the ages of 8-17 have experienced bullying either online or offline. We’ve put together a collection of our best online resources to help parents, carers, and teachers work through this difficult topic both at home and in the classroom. You can find these resources in your Safer Schools NI app and in our Teach and Home Learning hubs on our website.

Now in social media back in June, Instagram announced they would be introducing Yoti’s age verification technology to help verify the ages of their users. This week, it’s been rolled out to U.K. users and anyone who tries to edit their date of birth from under 18 to over 18 will be asked to verify their age. They will be required to upload any ID that shows your name and recent photo, such as a driving licence or national ID card. Users also have the option to record a video selfie that is shared with Yoti, which uses AI technology to analyse facial features and share your age estimation with Instagram.

Age verification has always been a major safeguarding concern – how can companies effectively verify the age of their users to ensure they only view age-appropriate content and interactions? Social media companies in particular have often come under scrutiny for lacklustre attempts at verifying users’ ages. You can read more about Yoti and age verification by searching our website saferschoolsni.co.uk for ‘Yoti’.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has urged the UK government to get back on track with passing the Online Safety Bill, after finding their current watch list of URLs containing child abuse imagery has almost doubled since last year. The Bill aims to reduce or prevent damage and harm to people, including children, when they are using the internet. It has now been delayed several times and is currently waiting to return to Parliament. The IWF’s URL watch list currently stands at nearly 25,000 – higher than ever before. You can read more about the Bill on our website saferschoolsni.co.uk by searching for the ‘Online Safety Bill’, or again – checking it out in your Safer Schools NI app.

Here in Northern Ireland, The Education Authority is facing serious financial risks, according to its director of finance. In a recent committee meeting, he revealed that there is rising budget deficit, with a funding gap of £300 million, due to factors such as inflation, pay pressures and rising energy costs.

That’s all from me this week, make sure to share this episode with your friends, family and colleagues so we can all work together to help keep the children and young people in our care safer online. You can follow us our social media to keep up to date with what we’re up to, just search ‘Safer Schools NI’ on all your favourite socials. You can also download, for free, the Safer Schools NI app and stay up to date 24/7. Speak to you next week and as always stay safe.

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