Children Back to School

 

The new school year has started and once again the road are choked with parents taking their children back to school, the morning respite of light traffic during the summer holiday period is finally over.

However during the long six week holiday how many of our children have been” chatting” to their many so called on-line “friends” that they have never met and how has this effected their behaviour. Schools have such an important role to play in families lives primarily in “teaching” our children but they also have a legal duty to safeguard their pupils and promote their well being ( Section 175 Education Act 2002, this legislation applies to all schools & PRU’s, free schools, academies and the independent sector). With the onset of the new academic year they must be vigilant to those pupils who have not returned to school from their summer holidays or are absent during the school week. There could be a variety of reasons as to why some children do not return to school following the summer break, such as taking advantage of the confusion that currently prevails within the term time holiday legislation following a recent High Court appeal by a parent who appealed against a prosecution for taking his daughter out of school during term time for a holiday. We also know from many previous concerns that some children have been taken to South East Asian countries during the six week break for a “forced marriage”, this has been highlighted by Jaswinder Sanghera from the charity also based in Derby called Karma Nirvana. Another reason could be that a child has been groomed on-line during the summer holiday period and has been isolated from their support networks, this is classic grooming behaviour which often leads to exploitation and school staff need to be alert to such behaviours so the necessary interventions can take place. School staff also need to be aware of changing behaviours at school such as a lack of interest in school work, this may not have been the case during the last academic term and as such doers represent change that does require an explanation ! differences in presentation, isolation from friends and peers and also they need to listen to the child’s friends and peers who may be concerned about their friends behaviour and attitude.

The Department for Education have just released their latest guidance for schools regarding children missing from education , it can be found on the following link below; https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/550416/Children_Missing_Education_-_statutory_guidance.pdf

Its worth reading this statutory guidance although its not a bed time read! We are all well aware that some schools are happy for certain children not to attend or persuade them and their parents that it is in their best interest to request to be taken off roll. The guidance is quite clear in what circumstances children maybe removed from a school roll ( Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 section 8) and the investigations that need to take place before a child can lawfully be removed from school roll. It is therefore imperative that parents and professionals are aware of this guidance and the duties that schools have with regard to reporting absences and also removal from school rolls.

Children are required to attend an efficient full time education for 190 days during the year, if children are not in school and are ” invisible” who can protect them. Schools have a legal duty to report unexplained absences and make the necessary enquires to ascertain why children are not attending and then to take the appropriate action to support missing pupils back into school, parents also have a legal duty and moral obligation to ensure that their children attend school on a regular and punctual basis.

I will write another blog next week regarding children who are “home educated” as I am aware that this is a subject that causes at lot of professionals significant anxieties and has recently been a featured in a SCR in Wales following the death of a child who was not in education.

Kevin Murphy

Education and Communities Lead

CSE Response Unit

The National Working Group.

01332 585371

Kev@nwgnetwork.orgi-promise-to-protect-watermarked-bw

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Child Sexual Exploitation Response Unit Launch – Phil Ashford

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Phil Ashford speaking about the launch of the Response unit

The new Child Sexual Exploitation Response Unit (#CSERU ) has been launched yesterday (13.09.16) and I am delighted that I have been chosen to lead this new initiative.  The NWG’s work with professionals has been a valued resource for people working in this field of abuse and therefore the development of a funded response unit building on that previous work is an exciting expansion, for both the organisation and the professionals we will be working alongside.

The unit comprises of some of the NWG’s long standing staff, whilst the additional funding has allowed us to recruit new expertise to the team to expand our working brief. The unit has new posts addressing education and community engagement, working with parents and carers. We are also developing a register of skills and knowledge, utilising individuals and agencies with experience in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation, across the country to compliment the work of the unit.

The recognition by the government of the need to seriously address the issues of sexual exploitation among our young people is an important progression towards our aim of a society that has zero tolerance to the abuse of children and young people today.

The Response Unit will be hosted within the NWG organisation who will continue to offer a wider range of opportunities to improve knowledge and responses, highlight gaps and network with peers.

We look forward to seeing new people join our network, strengthening the sharing of knowledge and understanding in the coming weeks and months.

 

Phil Ashford

CSE Response Unit Lead

NWG Network

 

Sheila Taylor’s visit to Cologne – Voices for truth and dignity – combating sexual violence in European Sport

The VOICE project will generate crucial research data for the European sport community by listening to the voices of those that have been affected by sexual violence in sport.

The resulting evidence-base will provide a platform for powerful knowledge-exchange opportunities and educational resources.

The objective is to enhance the sports community’s capacity to combat sexual violence and strengthen integrity in sport.

On Sunday, I travelled with UK steering group member Dr Mike Hartill of EdgeHill University to Cologne to spend a few days working on the project.

After some delays we arrived in Cologne to start work early on Monday morning. Covering subjects such as Co-ordination and Management of the grant, Ethics, research Interviews and guidance on sharing the voice of those have talked about their experience and producing educational materials.

I missed the first steering group meeting so this was my first time meeting our European partners, Dr Bettina Rulofs and Gitta Axmann from German Sports University, Cologne and Gloria Viseras, an Olympic medallist. I was made so welcome and thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.

This work is going to be so important in exposing some of the sexual abuse in sport and alongside some of the cases we have heard of in this country. We will be able to produce a range of resources and materials to assist professionals to work better with sports clubs to ensure those attending enjoy the activity and reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, we had no time to explore Cologne this time, but did manage to sneak out of the train station to get a picture of the magnificent cathedral situated alongside the station in Cologne.

Whilst we have managed to interview victims we need to try to reach those who have been abused through sports clubs and activities to hear their experience to inform those who can affect cultural change. If you know anyone over 18 who may be willing to speak confidentially to us, then please ask them to contact us so we can arrange to meet them.

http://voicesfortruthanddignity.eu

Ask FM. What is it & why is it one of the most popular platforms for bullying?

Let’s start with a basic explanation of Ask FM. So what is it?

Ask.fm is an anonymous question and answer platform website used regularly by lots of young people around the world. It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used as a means to communicate abusive, bullying and sexualised content.screen320x480

Ask Fm is a great social media platform when used properly. unfortunetely the downside to Ask FM unfortunately is how easy it is to bully someone on the platform. A user can sign up anonymously and ask anonymous questions that show publicly on someone’s profile.

The example on the right shows the right way to use the platform but as you can imagine if a child is prone to bullying or other abuse… it can be bullying central.

Okay, so let’s talk about the dangers of Ask FM.

Here are not 1, but 7 stories of teen suicides involving the popular platform Ask fm: 

(Source: https://nobullying.com/stories-of-7-teen-suicides-because-of-ask-fm-bullying)

Ask.fm Suicide Story #1

A 14-year old girl was found hanged in her bedroom after receiving hate messages on her ask.fm page where they told her to cut herself, drink bleach, and kill herself. In this social media platform, the users are allowed to ask questions while remaining anonymous. Although some of the bullies were identified and some even revealed themselves to say sorry, the teenager had already took her own life because of Ask Fm bullying.

Ask.fm Suicide Story #2

Another young girl took her life after being bullied online. Only 12 years old, the girl jumped from the top of a factory located in Florida. She was found dead at the abandoned cement factory one early morning. According to investigations, she endured more than a year of being bullied online. Prior to her body being found, she changed her Ask Fm page to “That Dead Girl.”

Ask.fm Suicide Story #3

A 15-year old boy also hanged himself, allegedly because of Ask Fm. He was found in a Lancashire Village at his family’s farmhouse, dead because of hurtful messages on his page. He was called a freak and was told several times that no one liked him. Some even said that he deserved to have sick things happen to him.

Ask.fm Suicide Story #4

A 17-year old also hanged himself just last July. He was blackmailed by a person he thought was a girl and was having an online relationship with. Not only was he involved in an extortion scam but he also received harsh comments saying that he should kill himself. One message even said that he should let a blade meet his throat.

Ask.fm Suicide Story #5

Another teenager from Florida hanged herself last year during the Thanksgiving weekend. The 16-year-old was asked by an anonymous user on the social media site about what she thought about suicide. She responded calmly and even posted some videos where she got some compliments. However, along with those praises came cruel messages telling her how ugly she was and even pried into her personal life. Ask Fm bullying claimed another victim.

Ask.fm Suicide Story #6

In September 2012 a 15-year-old girl from Ireland also committed suicide because of devastating Ask Fm bullying. She was found in the woods near where she lived. Before she killed herself she even spoke to some of her about suicide since she was being bullied. She was told over and over that she was fat and that she had no respect for herself.

Ask.fm Suicide Story #7

A girl of 13 also from Ireland killed herself and left a note about it where she mentioned being bullied and harassed on Ask Fm. What is even sadder is that her older sister who was 15 years old also committed suicide because she could not cope with living without her young sister. She also left a note for her mother where she said that negative things happen for good reasons and she hoped that they will see each other soon.

So as a parent you’re probably wondering what can you do to prevent this?

First look at the signs:

 

  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Unexpectedly stops using phone or computer
  • Appears nervous or jumpy when an Instant Message, text message, or Email appears
  • Appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using phone or computer
  • Becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
  • Expresses reluctance or refuses to participate in activities previously enjoyed

These signs aren’t just linked to Ask Fm, these are typically general signs of bullying, online abuse and CSE. (Child Sexual Exploitation)

 

Now let’s talk about what can be done, here are a few things to try:

  • A break from social media is always good. If you find your child is getting stressed with their phone or computer this might be a suggestion to them
  • Explain to your child that bullies want a response, so the best way is to ignore them and report it. Retaliation will show the bully it bothers you.
  • If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments you can block the person from ever contacting you.
  • Having as little personal information on your profile as possible is best when using social media.

If you have any questions or concerns about Ask Fm or any other social media platforms feel free to drop me an email: Jordan@nwgnetwork.org

new_logo_revisedAuthor: Jordan Simmonds
NWG Network
Date August 2016

http://www.nwgnetwork.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chatrooms, the Internet and more online safety issues revealed.

In July 2016 Police in Scotland carried out a 6 week investigation into the prevalence of online abuse and grooming. Operation “Latisse” uncovered an appalling catalogue of abusive behaviour directly aimed at children. 523 victims have been identified and over 392 charges have been laid against perpetrators and over 30 million abusive images have been recovered.

This just highlights the ongoing concerns about where our children” hang out ” on the internet. Previous on line safety advice was targeted at the distinction between the digital world and the real world, this is now no longer valid as both worlds have now merged and the so called digital divide is no longer present. Children now communicate over the internet via social media platforms on a daily basis, and in some cases on an hourly basis!download

The growth of mobile phone technology and sales has exacerbated the problem with many children and young people now accessing the internet whilst “mobile” laptops in bedrooms have been replaced by smart phones and tablets, access to WiFi is not restricted to the home environment.

Digital technology is a fast moving industry and it seems that many parents are slow in catching up with the latest developments or new social media platforms. In order to help our children protect themselves and we must help them to protect themselves we need to be able to understand the new social media platforms that our children are accessing i.e. snapchat, Ask fm, whatsapp, facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, omegle, chat roulette, kik, yik yak, vine, tinder, whisper.

How many of you out there have heard of all of these chatrooms and social media platforms? how many are your children currently using and would you be able to understand how they work and the potential dangers that they present? Jordan Simmonds our NWG Network assistant recently posted a blog article regarding snapchat from a parents perspective, the article was very well received with over 2600 downloads in a very short space of time. (View Article here)

The next blog Jordan will be posting will be regarding Ask FM and following this he will post blogs about more of these chat rooms.

The final message that we want to convey is for parents to talk to their children about the dangers that lurk out there on the internet especially during the summer holiday period where children have more time on their hands and boredom looming. We do not want to overly scare our children and make them worry too much but a healthy awareness of the risks and dangers that they can be exposed to is essential for them to be able to keep themselves safe. Stranger danger was a topic that I was taught about at school and in the new reality of the digital world that our children live in, with the increasing numbers of online friends that they have never met but communicate with on a daily basis keeping aware of their online habits is essentially good parenting . Watch out for Jordan’s latest blog coming soon !

Kevin Murphy

Education and Community Development Officer

NWG Network

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Instagram have added a feature that’s almost identical to this very popular platform. Snapchat!

Instagram has brought out a brand new feature called Instagram Stories.

So what is a story?2
A story on Instagram is a slideshow of images that last 24 hours. The process is simple. A user clicks the button in the top left of the screen (See pic on the right) and takes a picture or video. From here the user can add a filter or draw on their photo or video. Once the user is happy with their photo/video, they can add it to their story ready for everyone to see.

Sound familiar?

Well yes it does. Instagram’s ‘New’ feature is basically a polished clone of ‘Snapchat Stories’ See the similarities below:

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Instagram stories is arguably more user-friendly, they’ve definitely took an innovative approach when creating this feature.

If you are a parent, carer or professional who has any questions about social media platforms and online safety for kids. Feel free to contact us.

NWG Network
08/08/2016

 

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VOICE; Voices for truth and dignity. Combating sexual violence in sport

With the imminent arrival of the Olympic games this weekend we should pause for a moment to think about victims of sexualized violence within sport.  There has been near hysteria in the media regarding the Russian Olympic team and constant allegations of doping and drug misuse. This level of attention on this single issue can often detract focus away from other issues which may be prevalent.  In April 2016 British Cycling was embroiled in a bullying and sexism scandal with cyclist Jess Varnish alleging that she was a victim of sexist comments and bullying by one of her coaches on a regular basis. If this kind of behaviour is occurring at such a high level how do we know what is occurring at other levels in sport? Parental pressure on their children to become successful sport stars of the future is immense, anyone doubting this should watch junior football matches at the weekend and observe parents on the touch line often berating their children for not scoring or bellowing at referees.  If children are witness to this behaviour on a regular basis then do they get the message that this behaviour is normal?

The culture within male sports also needs to be questioned, I remember from my days of playing sport of being told to “man up” if I got injured, “men don’t cry” and “we’ll sort it out in the changing room” and this was whilst I was at school! The concept of the changing room culture also needs to be challenged, how many times have we heard sports stars being pilloried for disclosing incidents that have occurred within the confines of the dressing room. Many sports pundits have said on national sport programmes that what goes on in the changing rooms is absolutely sacrosanct and should not be discussed elsewhere, its seen as an unwritten code of conduct. If this is the case are some of our sports coaches from an early age modelling our children’s behaviour and teaching them not to “tell” and if this is the case how can children disclose abuse if they have been conditioned by this culture?

The power of the “coach” should not be underestimated, Leahey quotes a victim of sexual abuse as saying  “to us at that time, his word was like gospel.” How can children resist or disclose an abuser with this level of power. Dreams of success such as an Olympic gold medal are powerful motivators to achieve and succeed but can also be strong inhibitors preventing disclosure, fear of not being selected or dropped from a team  can also influence children to “accommodate” their abuse/abuser.

The NWG Network are part of a project aiming to give victims of sexualised violence a platform to speak out about what happened to them, former  Spanish Olympic Gymnast Gloria Viseras, Irish swimmer Karen Leach and German footballer Ralf Zitzmann, all victims of sexual abuse by sports coaches have all given their support and voice to the project.

The VOICES for truth and dignity project is aiming to give victims of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation in sport an opportunity to speak out about what happened to them. The VOICE project will generate crucial research data for the European sports community by listening to the voices of those that have been affected by sexual violence in sport. The resulting evidence-base will provide a platform for powerful knowledge-exchange opportunities and educational resources. The objective is to enhance the sports community’s capacity to combat sexual violence and strengthen integrity in sport.

I would urge you all to look at the web site www.voicesfortruthanddignity.eu  to see more about this important Pan European project. Please look at the video’s from Gloria and Karen and post this important  message onto your social media networks so that any potential victims out there can share their stories and contribute to this important research project.

 

Kevin Murphy

Education and Community Development Officer

NWG Network 4th August 2016