Last Updated on 14th April 2022

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Hello and welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites with me, Colin Stitt, Head of Safer Schools NI at INEQE Safeguarding Group. Today, I’m bringing you this week’s safeguarding news highlights, plus all the latest updates from INEQE’s Safeguarding experts!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Easter break, and when you’re taking a break from eating all those easter eggs, remember to take a break from technology too! You’ll find lots of helpful advice, along with our special easter-themed resources, to help children and young people to get offline, you can find these on our website at saferschoolsni.co.uk.

This week we’ve been talking about self-help apps – with children and young people using the online world for everything from education to fun and socialisation, it’s no great surprise that it’s now a place many turn to for help with their mental wellbeing. The use of self-help apps by young people is on the rise – visit saferschoolsni.co.uk to learn more and find out about the benefits and the risks of these apps.

TikTok has released its new ‘Stories’ feature, which mirrors similar story features on other platforms like Instagram. We took a look into what social media stories are, why young people like them and the safeguarding risks and ways you can help mitigate them. Find that on our website.

In the news this week, a planned update to the UK government strategy on preventing suicides will be considering the potential risks around gambling and online safety. It will also include plans on providing children and young people with the tools and support needed for their wellbeing, plus it will be looking at how the pandemic has affected mental health.

TikTok has also been busy with new testing on their ‘downvote’ feature, which will give users the option to press a ‘thumbs down’ button for comments they don’t want to see, as well as new updates to their safety tools and reporting sections. This comes in the wake of a new study that found almost 80% of children and young people use TikTok for all aspects of their life, with almost half of these users purchasing something after seeing it on TikTok.

Games company Epic have announced they will be partnering up with Lego to build an online space for children and families in the Metaverse. They have said they want to ensure the next iteration of the internet is designed from the outset with the wellbeing of kids in mind. You can find out more about the Metaverse on saferschoolsni.com.

In Northern Ireland news, a North Coast policing operation is planning to use the Easter break to educate visitors on how to spot children at risk of sexual exploitation. The PSNI warn that many of these signs are “hidden in plain sight” and are asking all visitors to remain alert. Possible signs include adults and young people booking into hotels at random times of day, or accessing porn in rooms where a child is suspected to be staying. Head to the Irish News website to see the full story.

And that’s everything from me for this week! Hope you have an eggtastic Easter break, and I’ll be hatching another cracking Safeguarding Soundbites soon. Thanks for listening and stay safe!

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