What is safeguarding?
The Care Quality Commission defines Safeguarding as including:
- Protecting one’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. People and organisations need to work together to prevent the risk of abuse or neglect, and to stop them from happening.
- Making sure well-being is promoted and everyone’s views, wishes, beliefs and feelings are being taken into account.
- Working with partners such as police, local councils, health agencies and government departments in order to prevent harm and/or manage a potential safeguarding issue.
Despite the little regulations of the law regarding this aspect, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 specifies that a zero tolerance approach must be adopted towards abuse, unlawful discrimination and restraint. This also includes:
- Subjecting people to degrading treatment
- Unnecessary or disproportionate restraint
- Deprivation of liberty.
The use of technology has become a significant component of many safeguarding issuessuch as child sexual exploitation, radicalisation, and sexual predation. Technology often provides a platform that facilitates harm. An effective approach to online safety empowers any organisation to protect and educate in the use of technology, and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene in, and escalate any incident where appropriate.
Online abuse can happen anywhere that allows digital communication such as: social networks, text messages, email and private messaging, online chats, comments on live streaming sites or voice chat in games.
The types of online abuse that might be experienced are:
- Emotional abuse
- Sexting (pressure or coercion to create sexual images)
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual exploitation
- Grooming (perpetrators may use online platforms to build trusting relationship with someone in order to abuse them)
Concerning online safety, the following steps need to be followed to ensure safe networking:
- Being aware of your organisation’s online safety procedures and policies
- Recognise the signs that someone might be at risk of experiencing online abuse and harm
- Respond to concerns
- Understand all the possible issues arising from the use of different social media platforms
Whatever the type of abuse encountered, online abuse can have significant, long-lasting impacts on a person’s overall well-being, the most common including anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and other mental health difficulties.
In order to prevent online abuse, it is crucial to act according to the following steps:
- Keep personal information and data limited. Unknown people do not need to know your personal relationship status, phone number or home address
- Keep your privacy settings on
- Practice safe browsing. Resist the urge to access dubious content and bait sites which might expose personal information.
- Be careful what you download
- Choose strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone. A weak password opens many doors to cybercriminals.
- Be careful who you meet online. Fake social media profiles are a popular way for hackers to target potential victims.
- Be careful what you post online. Anything you post online can be copied or downloaded and may stay on the internet forever.
One of the most important messages for anyone struggling with issues such as bullying is not to suffer in silence, but to talk to someone.
The internet is a wonderful channel for raising awareness. Young people engage with it on a daily basis and we should be excited about the opportunities it brings to raise awareness of mental well-being.
If you have concerns about a young person’s mental wellbeing there are a number of organisations you can contact:
- Safeguarding Officer Ellen Mould: 01329 848714 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- https://youngminds.org.uk/ Young Minds, UK’s leading charity promoting wellbeing and mental health of young people
- https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/camhs-information-for-parents-and-carers/ Child and adolescent mental health services information for parents and carers
- https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/camhs-information-for-children-and-young-people/ CAMHS (Child and adolescent mental health services)
- https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/ UK Safer Internet Centre