Internet Safety

Midsomer Norton Schools Parnership take student eSafety very seriously at our Schools. Within this section of the website, both parents and students will find helpful information with regards to surfing the internet, using chatrooms and privacy protection. We hope you'll find this information useful.

Technology Safety: General Information

The Internet, electronic mail and the world wide web provide many benefits such as educational opportunities, entertainment and the ability to establish a line of communication with different people all over the world. It has created a whole "new virtual world" of cyber space.

This may lead us to believe that it is there to help us and that it is totally safe. But is this really true?

In the real world we have to take care of our own safety, unfortunately there are good and not so good people in both worlds. As individuals we are responsible for our safety where ever we are, no matter what we are doing. Each year we are made aware of a tragedy that has sadly happened to a young person. Consider who you are inviting into your home through the Internet. What information are you giving them? Are they telling the truth?

Technology Safety: Who Can I Believe?

A person communicating with you can tell you anything they want, they can project a false image of themselves, saying things to you about them, which are either exaggerated or complete lies.

There may be times when people become instinctively wary about what the other person has said or may think that something is odd. At this point your inner feelings, which are a defence, have alerted you to something being wrong. It is important that you trust in your instincts and let someone know.

Even if you are chatting to somebody on-line from another country the danger is present. There have been occasions where young people have suffered harm from people they have met on-line, who have travelled to this country to meet them.

You are the person who uses the keyboard while communicating in the virtual on-line world and you are in control, you can turn off the computer or exit the programme.

Technology Safety: Six Point Plan

  1. Don’t give out personal details, photographs, or any other information that could be used to identify you, such as information about your family, where you live or the school you go to.
  2. Don’t take other people at face value – they may not be what they seem.
  3. Never arrange to meet someone you’ve only ever previously met on the Internet without first telling your parents, getting their permission and taking a responsible adult with you. The first meeting should always be in a public place.
  4. Always stay in public areas of chatrooms where there are other people around.
  5. Don’t open an attachment or downloaded files unless you know and trust the person who has sent it.
  6. Never respond directly to anything you find disturbing – save or print it, log off and tell an adult.

Technology Safety: Who’s Talking To Your Child?

The Internet is a relatively new form of communication for people. There are many names associated with the Internet; Cyberspace, the Web, the Net and the Information Highway are just a few names for the world where children, young people and adults alike now communicate within the secrecy of a virtual world. Many young people who surf the Net consider themselves to be Net-Intelligent. Nevertheless they can be just as vulnerable as people who are not net wise. Many people believe that giving out personal details to their new “virtual friends” will be all right.

The headlines that we see in the media concerning the problem of paedophiles with the Internet speak for themselves. Through the Internet it is possible that children are now at risk from paedophiles anywhere in the world. At the touch of a button a paedophile can have direct communication with your child. The paedophile effectively lures young people into a false world by making false promises. Many are speaking directly to children and encouraging them to wear earphones so that their parents are unable to hear. Some children have even given out their mobile phone numbers. This technology has effectively provided access into any home connected to the Internet.

Technology Safety: Guidelines For Parents and Carers

By taking responsibility for your child’s on-line computer use, you can reduce any potential risks to their safety on line.

  • Never site computers in an area where it is difficult to monitor what your child is doing. If possible, have the computer in a family room.
  • Establish reasonable guidelines for your children on their use of the Internet and chatlines. Use the Six Point Plan. Talk about these rules with them; record the rules on paper and position them in a visible place near the computer as a reminder.
  • Get to know the Internet and become familiar with all the things that can be done on line, including any services your child uses. If you do not know how to log on, get your child to show you and what he or she does on line.
  • The net has a particular kind of language, such as ‘u’ = ‘you’. Get to know this language. Ask a friend/colleague to write down a legend for the different words.
  • Get to know their on-line friends just the same as you would their other friends.
  • If you child arranges a meeting it is obviously a very delicate decision whether or not to give parental permission. If a meeting is to be arranged make the first meeting in a public place and with a responsible adult present.
  • Emphasise to your son/daughter the importance of making you aware of any bad language or distasteful pictures they may see while on line.
  • Notify the police of anything you see which is distasteful or ask advice from the police if you are not sure whether to report it.

Technology Safety: Report Abuse/Resources

Resources for children and young people, parents and guardians and teachers
Avon and Somerset Constabulary have produced a small leaflet entitled 'A Guide to Internet Chatrooms'. You can download a free copy of this leaflet by clicking here.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP)
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre works across the UK and maximises international links to deliver a holistic approach that combines police powers with the dedicated expertise of business sectors, government, specialist charities and other interested organisations - all focused on tackling child sex abuse wherever and whenever it happens.

Think U Know
This Home Office website contains guidance for both young people and their parents/carers.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has set up its own young person's website which has been designed and written specifically for young people of secondary school age. The website is called 'thinkuknow'.

Kidsmart is an award winning practical Internet safety advice website for schools, agencies and young people, produced by the children’s Internet charity Childnet.

Virtual Global Taskforce
The Virtual Global Taskforce website was launched on Wednesday 26 January 2005 to deter and prevent individuals from committing child abuse on-line. The new website has been pioneered by the National Crime Squad in association with UK industry leaders and law enforcement counterparts in Australia, Canada, the US, and Interpol.

The Virtual Global Taskforce partnership aims to make the Internet a safer place for children and a more hostile place for paedophiles.

The website acts as a gateway to information on how to use the Internet safely, and links to a range of support agencies that can advise and support victims of abuse. It also facilitates the ability of Internet users to report on-line child abuse in a secure and confidential environment. The aim is for the website to become a "one stop shop" for all information about child protection on-line:

Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
Internet crime - illegal content: To report illegal internet content (images or websites) which you believe contains any of the following:

  • child abuse images - hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene content - hosted in the UK
  • criminally racist content - hosted in the UK

The IWF operate an internet 'hotline' which allows members of the public to submit details of illegal content online which they may have been exposed to.

Making a report is easy, just follow the step by step instructions on the IWF website. The IWF can only help with content that falls into one of these 3 categories.

The IWF works in partnership with UK Government, Industry & the Police to minimise the availability of illegal content online and to influence initiatives and programmes developed to combat online abuse.

For Children:

Department for Education and Skills (DfES) - Superhighway Safety
Childnet International has designed the ‘Chatdanger’ website, which has been created to inform young people about the potential dangers and ways of keeping safe in interactive areas online, such as chatrooms, instant messenger, online games and email, and also via mobile phones. The aim of the site is very much to inform and empower users so they can use these services safely, and not at all to discourage people.