Safeguarding in Education Blog 1st September 2022

Social Media, Misogyny and Statutory Guidance for Schools

Welcome to the new academic year 2022-23!

As adults it can be difficult for us to navigate social media platforms and to keep up with the latest influencers and trends. For children it is more difficult to understand and address the effects of damaging social media patterns. It can sometimes mean they run into material which can have a negative influence and impact and sometimes it is used to abuse them or others. During the summer break you may have heard of the influencer Andrew Tate, who has been actively advocating extreme views on misogyny and sexism on social media platforms. Recently these platforms, including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (where it is reported he had more than 4.7 million followers), have banned him for his extreme misogynistic views. Social media companies are working to remove videos containing his views and violence.

It is his influence on boys and young men that is very worrying as well as his rise to notoriety for his derogatory views about women and toxic beliefs about masculinity. It has been reported that many young people follow him and that boys as young as 11 are attempting to emulate him. Many parody social media accounts have been set up, each one receiving money through Tate’s ‘affiliate’ programme. Parents may not be aware of what their children are watching on screens behind closed bedroom doors. This is something the DfE have asked schools to address in one of the latest updates to statutory guidance.

What does statutory guidance expect from schools?

It is important that schools raise awareness and educate parents about online harms – paragraph 139 of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 states that schools should reinforce to parents:

  • the importance of children’s safety
  • inform them of the filtering and monitoring systems used
  • what the school is asking children to do online outside of the school
  • the sites you are advising they access and
  • the staff they will be interacting with

There is a big emphasis this year on keeping parents informed and educated about online safety. This can be done through newsletters, workshops, information evenings and the school website. Use drama productions and open evenings where children play a big part in educating their parents, to engage and help parents to keep their children safe online when they are not in school. Governing bodies should review incidents and the effectiveness of online safety systems including the PSHE curriculum, healthy relationships, respect and consent.

Top Tips for Best Safeguarding Practice

  • Ensure children feel comfortable and confident in sharing concerns about themes they encounter in the online world, encourage children to share their experiences and anything that could be troubling them
  • Remind children of the importance of critically assessing all the information they see online, even where accounts appear verified and have many followers
  • Make staff aware of ‘alpha male’ influencers who advocate misogyny and an anti-feminist community on the internet – also known as the ‘manosphere’ a term also used by INCELs (involuntary celibates)
  • Ensure staff listen out for potentially problematic discussions inside and outside of lessons and engage children in conversations about what they see online
  • Make parents aware of how dangerous Tate’s content is and educate them about recognising the signs of hate – ensure there is a collaborative process between school and home, to keep abreast of developments about what is happening online
  • Use LGfL’s ParentSafe which includes top tips for parents, including parental controls, screen time and reporting concerns, to raise awareness and educate parents about online safety
  • Safeguarding and online safety should be a standing item at governing body meetings
  • The effectiveness of school filters and monitoring systems should be reviewed regularly by the safeguarding team, considering the ages of the children and likely contextual risks
  • Review the PSHE curriculum in relation to healthy relationships and consent and teach children about respect and tolerance as part of the RSHE curriculum
  • Ensure staff have awareness of systems and how to escalate concerns
  • For governors to fulfil their responsibility to ensure children’s exposure to online risks are limited, there should be regular reviews of online safety systems and trends and patterns in relation to any online safety incidents
  • Each review should trigger discussions about identifying trends and learning lessons

The Safeguarding in Education Blog

Preparing for the Summer break

The six week summer break can be a difficult time for some children. There are some things that you can do to support children and families who are likely to struggle:

  • Make sure your school website is updated with national helpline numbers and support services e.g., local food banks, holiday activities and food schemes
  • Show children where to find the information before the holidays
  • Meet with vulnerable children that receive support and ask them how they are feeling about the holidays and if they need anything before the end of term.
  • Consider children with additional needs – do you need to prepare them for changes? Are there any activities you can signpost them to?
  • Consider young carers – liaise with their social worker and update them on any current concerns in plenty of time.
  • Consider your looked after children – have a 1-1 conversation with carers, thinking through the impact of the long school break and ask if they need extra support.
  • Consider sharing relevant safeguarding or pastoral information with parents before the holidays.
  • Think about mental health and consider sharing strategies with children to help them with their emotional health and wellbeing before the school closes.
  • Share well-being tips with staff and children – remind them about the importance of exercise, daylight, music, healthy eating – preparing them in many ways.
  • Think about who needs to be contacted and what needs to happen to safeguard children during the holidays.

Thinking ahead to September 2022

Consider training and development – what do you need to cover and how can you ensure that staff understand? There are changes being introduced in Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022.

Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews – do staff need a refresher on the four types of abuse and the signs and indicators? Think about the cases of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Star Hobson and Louis Mwangi and all the other children who have been murdered and abused. What were the lessons learned and what do we need to do to ensure all staff are aware? What key topics do you need to cover? Is it a refresher on child-on-child abuse or safer working practice? Should you revisit domestic violence and abuse, discrimination and equality and violence against women and girls? With the ever-increasing cost of living, many families are living under both financial and emotional pressures. Drug and alcohol abuse and parental mental health problems can also be exacerbated, particularly with the expected economic crisis.

Pupil Voice – what needs to be planned for the autumn term in relation to PSHE, RSHE and teaching children about safeguarding, being kind, respectful and healthy relationships and how we are encouraging children to tell us their wishes and feelings, offering them a safe space in school and a trusted adult? A greater emphasis on pastoral care!

Child-on-Child Abuse – is this part of your safeguarding policy truly reflected in practice or are there any discussions that need to take place with staff to obtain their views on its implementation? Do children feel supported, whether they are victims or perpetrators and how is your school addressing bullying, cyberbullying and child-on-child abuse?

My experience this term indicates these are growing issues in schools so what can we do to address these difficulties – can you nominate a group of staff and children that can be trained to champion these issues in your school?

Contact and Support during the Summer break

I will still be around to support you during school closures, you will find me on social media in various places:

If you haven’t already, why not join the discussion with like-minded people in my free group here  Safeguarding in Education Community Group.

You will find me on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/chalktalkeducation/

You will find me on Twitter here https://twitter.com/ChalktalkEduc

You will find me on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/ChalktalkEduc

You will find me on Linked in here https://www.linkedin.com/in/anastasiageorgiou1/

I have a new email address: anastasia@chalktalkeducation.com

Feel free to contact me for support and advice on any safeguarding in education matters.

Thank you for keeping children safe from harm and all  your relentless hard work this academic year. Thank you also for reading this blog and sharing it with your staff and governors. It is almost time to relax, re-charge and re-set. I wish you all a restful, happy and healthy summer holiday. 

The Safeguarding in Education Blog

Online Safety at Home and at School

The significance of online safety as a key element of safeguarding has increased greatly in the last few years. Being online is an integral part of most children’s lives, especially since the pandemic increased internet use significantly. Statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021, tells us that online safety should form a fundamental part of schools’ and colleges’ safeguarding and child protection procedures. Working effectively with parents is a key part of online safety because parents play an important role in helping their children stay safe online.

LGfL’s dedicated one-stop location offers parents support and advice on a range of subjects through their ParentSafe web page:

This is great news especially with parental engagement so vital to reinforce those key safeguarding messages.

School Resources

Just a joke? – Childnet Toolkit contains a range of resources to help schools explore problematic online sexual behaviour including:

  • Three lesson plans
  • Quick activities
  • An interactive quiz
  • Teaching Guide

Inspiring children to use technology responsibility and critically are key areas of online safety – what’s your school doing to ensure children are safe online?

Supporting Schools in Safeguarding Children

  • Whole school safeguarding and child protection training – interactive sessions providing a clear understanding of your legal duties, including signs and indicators, thresholds, case studies and best practice around safeguarding in your school/setting
  • Designated Safeguarding Leads – providing training on the designated safeguarding lead role including responsibilities of the role, in accordance with the latest DfE guidance and best practice
  • Accredited Safer Recruitment Training – colleagues in schools, colleges and other settings can benefit from booking a Safer Recruitment course for your senior leadership team, business managers, HR colleagues and governors
  • Governor training –   there are statutory safeguarding requirements on governing bodies – this course will ensure your governors have the knowledge and information necessary to better understand their responsibilities and perform their functions