How do I report harmful content?

Reporting harmful content.

Children are exposed to the vast internet world from an early age! While this brings countless educational benefits, it also expose them to potential dangers, such as harmful (and illegal) content and cyberbullying. As educators and caregivers, it’s our responsibility to guide students on how to navigate the digital world safely. So, let’s take a look at the dangers of the internet and what we need to do by reporting harmful content.

harmful content

A hidden danger of harmful content

The internet is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a treasure trove of knowledge, a platform for communication, and a source of endless entertainment! But on the other hand, it’s a space where harmful and illegal content can lurk, posing threats to children. These types of content can include explicit material, hate speech, violence, extremist propaganda and more.

It can be easy for children to stumble across this sort of content accidentally. Whether they’re innocently browsing the web, scrolling through social media or encountering it through peer pressure or their own curiosity, harmful content is never far away.

The consequences of exposure to this sort of content can be profound. And it can have a huge impact on a child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

Such harmful content can pose a threat whether they are in school or at home. Therefore, it is crucially important schools follow the DfE’s guidance for Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE). This includes having a thorough school internet filtering and firewall solution.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is another big concern when it comes to the dangers children can face online. Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else. It can happen in serveral different ways, including both physical and emotional behaviours. Cyberbullying (or online bullying) is when someone uses the internet and digital platforms to deliberately upset someone else through harassing, threatening or intimidating others. According to UKSIC, 12% of children in the UK experience cyberbullying.

It can happen anywhere (at home, at school or online), and any child can experience it, especially if they’re seen to be different in some way. This might be because of their disability, race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. But it also happens if they’re shy, have low self-esteem or have different family circumstances than others. Unlike bullying offline, cyberbullying follows a child everywhere they have access to the internet. It can happen at any time, so it’s hard for children to escape it.

The effects of bullying can vary. Some children may be able to brush it off or ignore it. But for others, it leads to mental health problems (like depression or anxiety), self-harm and even suicide. The effects of bullying can last into adulthood.

The most common ways cyberbullying happens include:

  • Social media.
  • Text messages and messaging apps (such as Whatsapp).
  • Emails.
  • Direct messaging and chat rooms.
  • Online gaming communities.
  • Online forums and message boards.

Preventing cyberbullying isn’t easy! And because it’s online it’s even harder to monitor or control. However, there’s lots you can do in school to raise awareness and treat it as another form of bullying under your school’s bullying policies. Training all school staff in safeguarding and anti-bullying strategies means that if a bullying incident arises, everyone is able to deal with it appropriately.

But what about for students? Your students need to understand that bullying in any form is unacceptable! This includes any behaviours online outside of school too. Your school should promote a positive environment (both off and online) as well as educating students about how to report cyberbullying.

There are lots of resources to help schools tackle cyberbullying. Check out ChildnetUKSIC, and NSPCC for more information!

So what can schools do?

There’s lots of things schools can do to proactively help your students from the impact of harmful content online!

  • Implement filtering and monitoring tools – It’s REALLY important to keep your students safe while they’re on the school network. Having good school filtering and monitoring software in place means you can restrict access to harmful content, so your students can surf the web safely. We can help you with this!
  • Collaborate with parents – Create a united front against harmful content online with your students’ parents and guardians! Share information about your school’s online safety policies and the best online safety practises for them to implement at home.
  • Digital literacy education – Start incorporating digital literacy into your curriculum early on! Teach your students how to evaluate the reliability of sources, recognise and avoid harmful content, and practise responsible online behaviour.
  • Encourage open communication – Let students know that they can come to you (or anyone else in your school!) if they have any questions or concerns about content they’ve seen online.
  • Raise awareness– Let’s make online safety fun! Why not conduct workshops for students, and bring in guest speakers to talk about the importance of online safety.
  • Report harmful content – Make sure students are aware of the reporting mechanisms in place within your school. And that they know they can report harmful content they come across, no matter if it’s in school or outside.

How to report harmful content online?

There’s lots of different avenues to report harmful and illegal content online. And the best way depends on where the content has been seen! To report child sexual abuse material, go to the Internet Watch Foundation. For terrorist content, visit ACT (Action Counters Terrorism).

Most social media platforms and websites have tools for reporting harmful content and users who are behaving in an inappropriate way. Take a look at Report Harmful Content to see how to report on social media sites and other online platforms.

In cases where online abuse escalates, parents and schools can also reach out to local authorities for support and guidance.

How can we help?

We’re your school’s first line of defence in online safety! We provide schools and trusts all over the UK with the very best bespoke broadband, safeguarding and security solutions. This means your students stay safe while they surf the web.

Our super web filtering, monitoring, firewalls and anti-virus solutions keep your school safe too. Plus it’s all fully compliant with KCSIE, Prevent Duty and Internet Watch Foundation standards!

Just get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we can help you with your school or trust’s connectivity or safeguarding!

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