Last Updated on 8th April 2022

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Hi and welcome to another Safeguarding Soundbites – where I bring you up to speed with all of the safeguarding news you need. I’ll also be telling you about Ineqe Safeguarding Group’s latest articles and releases that will help guide and support you on the real life and relevant safeguarding issues that our children and young people face online today. 

Easter is here and so is the sunshine – well, it was last week! But -fingers crossed- the weather should be getting at least a little bit milder soon and we want to help you encourage your children and young people to step into spring – and step away from the digital devices! We’ve created a host of resources to support you in doing so, including activity packs, our top five tips to getting kids outdoors and our round-up article signposting you to all our best resources for downing devices. You’ll find all of these in our online safety section at saferschoolsni.co.uk. 

 Ofcom has released its latest study looking at online trends and behaviours of internet users in the UK. The government regulator in charge of broadcasting and telecommunications published their annual report into how parents and children use the internet and what their attitudes are towards the online world. Ineqe’s online safety experts took a look at some of the key findings of the report and you can find it in our online safety section.    

 A Facebook group that shared photos of young girls in school uniforms was discovered this week. The group posted photos sourced from the individual’s own social media pages, including girls and women from County Down. Facebook has since removed the page for violating their policies. But with no direct crime being committed, many have been left worried and upset. You can find out more on saferschoolsni.co.uk about what happened and what steps you can take to help the children and young people in your care share safer online. 

Last year we carried out a safety review into the horror game ‘Poppy Playtime’ – now, a character from the game called ‘Huggy Wuggy’ has been hitting the headlines due to a recent surge in online content featuring the character and school playground games involving songs and the reciting of phrases used by the character in this horror game. With rising concerns from parents and school staff, and a recent statement from the police in Dorset, we took a look into what’s been happening, you can find it in our online safety section. 

In the news, teachers in Northern Ireland are calling for a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to protect them from online abuse. The PSNI have received over eighty reports of fake TikTok accounts targeting teachers in the last six months alone. The police have also warned that pupils posting abusive content could be committing a criminal offence. Search our website for teacher targeted bullying to get more information and support. 

Ofsted have reported that Covid restrictions have left young children lacking in social skills. Ofsted inspectors found that children in nurseries are struggling to make friends and that babies and toddlers are low in confidence and are having speech and language difficulties, including problems responding to basic facial expressions. Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman has voiced concern about how, if left unaddressed, young children’s development could potentially cause problems for primary schools in the future.  

The Government plans to put pressure on video game firms to ban children from buying loot boxes. Ministers have warned they will bring in legislation to limit their use after concerns that loot boxes encourage gambling. If you want to know more about gambling in gaming, read our recent article about the subject with information, guidance, and advice, which you’ll find at saferschoolsni.co.uk. 

Finally, for our listeners who like to tweet, Twitter has confirmed this week it is working on an edit button that would allow users to change their tweets after being posted. This feature will be tested in the coming months however a release date has yet to be announced. 

That’s everything from me for this week – thank you for listening. I’ve been Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools NI and I hope you’ve enjoyed Safeguarding Soundbites. We’d love you to share this podcast with friends, family and colleagues – stay safe and I’ll speak to you next time! 

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