With self-isolation in place all over the UK due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), safeguarding remains as important as ever. The following best practice principles should be adopted if you are considering running online activities with children.
If you plan to record or livestream via an online platform, you need to assess any risks and take appropriate actions to minimise harm. Things to consider include:
- Consider which platform to use, since free platforms such as YouTube or Facebook Live do not allow you to restrict the audience
- Consider inviting your audience to register to watch the stream and issue a log-in with a password, or look into using a custom platform if livestreaming is going to be regularly used
- Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings and know how to report any offensive or abusive content
- Ideally, the online activities should be streamed at specific times and supervised by appropriate adults
- Be sensitive to the needs of individual children, including d/Deaf and disabled children, and children who may be sensitive to certain topics or issues that may arise during the livestream
- Parents/carers should be on hand to handle any sudden changes or upsetting developments that may occur during the livestream
Where is the recording taking place?
Coaches should be in a neutral area where nothing personal or inappropriate can be seen or heard in the background.
Which platform will you use?
Always make sure the platform you are using is suitable for the children’s age group. Set up a separate account for any online platforms you use (don’t use your own personal accounts), and check the privacy settings.
Make sure parents, carers and children understand the benefits and risks of online lessons, and get written consent for children to be involved.
Contacting children at home
While centres and clubs are closed, coaches, officials or staff might need to contact children individually. Your organisation should clearly set out when it is and isn’t appropriate to contact children at home. Here is some guidance to help...
- Remind staff of your code of conduct and make it clear how you expect them to behave. A sample code of conduct is available below
- Make sure staff know what safeguarding measures to take if they are having a one-to-one conversation with a child. The NSPCC have produced a useful guide for lone working and working one-to-one with children, available here
- Use parents’ or carers’ email addresses or phone numbers to communicate with children, unless this poses a safeguarding risk. Use business accounts to communicate via email or online platforms – never your own personal accounts
- Make sure any phone calls are made from a blocked number so your personal contact details aren't visible
- If organisations are accessing families’ contact details at home, ensure they comply with the Data Protection Act 2018
Before starting any livestream, remind children...
- Not to share private information
- Not to respond to contact requests from people they don’t know
- Who they should tell if they see or hear anything upsetting or inappropriate
Whether hosting or joining a livestream, you must get consent from parents and carers and children if any images of or identifying information about the child may be used.
sample CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PARTICIPANTS AND MEMBERS
Child protection concerns
Remind all your staff of your safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures.
Check that everyone is able to contact your Member Body Lead Safeguarding Officer if they have any concerns about a child. This may be because...
- You see or hear something worrying during an online session
- A child discloses abuse during a phone call or via email
Your Member Body Lead Officer should keep a note of any contact numbers they may need during this period, for example children’s social care and the local police.
The British Equestrian Safeguarding team is staffed by professionals who are experienced in dealing with these concerns. We are working from home but are still available for advice and support, you can email us directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children and young people are likely to spend more time online due to social distancing. Talk to them regularly about the benefits and risks of the online world and give them space to ask questions and talk about anything that worries them.
Reporting a Safeguarding Concern
What should I do if I have a concern about a child, young person or adult at risk?
- If you think that a child, young person or adult at risk is in immediate danger please contact the police on 999 without delay.
- If a child, young person or adult at risk needs immediate medical attention, call an ambulance and tell the paramedics that there is a safeguarding concern.
- If you have a concern about the welfare of a child, young person or adult at risk or the behaviour of an adult towards a child, young person or adult at risk, you must refer it to your local Social Services or Adult Social Care
- If you are concerned that someone may be behaving inappropriately or seeking to groom a child in an online environment, then please use the CEOP reporting button to report directly to the National Crime Agency
- If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999, and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force, who will assist you without you having to speak
If the matter is urgent and you cannot contact any of the above,
You can call the following who will be able to give you help and advice...
Mental health and wellbeing
Children and young people may be worried about the impact of coronavirus, social distancing or self-isolation. Those who already have mental health difficulties such as anxiety might be finding things particularly tough. Talk to them about what’s happening, check how they’re feeling and keep them as well informed as you can.
The NSPCC has a useful guide about how to have difficult conversations with children, available here.
Childline provides a range of online tools that young people might find helpful:
Childline can also give confidential help and advice. Calls to 0800 1111 are free or children can get support online.