Last Updated on 18th May 2022

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Hello and welcome back to Safeguarding Soundbites. If you’re a first-time listener, this is the mini podcast that brings you all this week’s top online safeguarding stories, alongside the latest advice and updates from our safeguarding experts here at Safer Schools NI. I’m Iain Jones, Service Engagement Officer so let’s get started!

This week was the start of Foster Care Fortnight – the annual two-week campaign to bring attention to fostering and reflect on how foster care is changing lives. This year’s theme is fostering communities, so we took a look at how two families in Northern Ireland have embraced fostering. You can find out how their lives have changed for the better through our interviews with them on saferschoolsni.co.uk.

This week was also mental health awareness week and this year’s theme was loneliness, something many people sadly experience every day. Worryingly, research shows that more and more young people are struggling with their mental health, including developing issues like self-harm, anxiety and eating disorders. Visit our website to get more information, advice, and find signposting to further help.

If you’re an avid WhatsApp user then you may have noticed a few changes! Meta has added new features, such as the option to react to messages, and there’s a lot more to come! With upcoming additions, such as the Community and the Companion features, now’s a great time to make sure you’re up to date on WhatsApp and know all you need to know to make sure any children or young people in your care are safer when using the app. Learn more in our article in our online safety section.

In the news, The National Cyber Security Centre has reported a record crackdown on internet scams after tackling more than 2.7 million attempted frauds in 2021, including fake celebrity endorsements and extortion emails. The agency highlighted that the increase in detection reflected aggressive targeting, rather than an overall increase in scams.

Instagram is to begin testing NFTs on its platform. Select creators will be able to display their NFTs on their feed, stories or in messages. You can learn more about what NFTs are and how they work by searching our website or the Safer Schools NI app for our beginner’s guide to NFTs.

MPs have called for more to be done to protect child influencers from exploitation. Concerns were raised over children who create online content aimed at other children and who earn income by sponsorship or brand partnership. MPs have asked for investigations into pay standards and making ads in content more transparent.

The Education Authority has asked teaching union NASUWT to abandon their industrial action, stating that the action ‘will not resolve issues and instead will bring further disruption to the operation of schools.” The action began on Tuesday in reaction to pay and workload concerns.

The Children’s Commissioner has called for special considerations for pupils during the upcoming Translink strike, asking that the strike over pay not affect students taking GCSEs, AS and A-Level examinations. The strike is due to take place between the 17th and 23rd of May.

New research from Queen’s and Ulster University has found that almost four in 10 young people have experienced some form of childhood trauma. The study found that boys are more likely to report feeling threatened or hurt whilst girls are more likely to report online sexual harassment.

That’s all from me this week – thank you for listening and please join me again next week when I’ll be bringing you more news and safeguarding updates. In the meantime, you can find us on social media by searching for Safer Schools NI or visit our website at saferschoolsni.co.uk.

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