Our Esafety Guide, our Esafety Policy and our Social Media Policy are all available to read online. All parents are strongly advised to read these documents carefully, to learn what to do to safeguard their children. The school also offers FREE onlne Esafety training courses to parents through The Child Protection Company – just contact the School Office for further details.
Keeping Your Son Safe Online At Home
Thinkuknow, a website run by CEOP (part of the National Crime Agency) provides a range of advice and information for parents of secondary school pupils, including:
Tools available to protect your child online
Risks that your child might face
Talking to your children about their online activities
Reading School has produced posters to make students aware of what they can do to stay safe. These are displayed in classrooms, and communal areas throughout the school.
We also require all students and their parents, as well as members of staff and governors, to sign our ICT User Agreement, to ensure that they are aware of and are complying with the School's policies and procedures in this area.
If you are a parent of a current student and you have not already done so, please print off page one of the ICT User Agreement, and complete the form, sign it and sending it to the School Office, so that it is on file. Please note that it also needs to be signed by your son.
eSafety - Sexting
Advice for parents about talking to your child about creating, sending or receiving explicit images
'Sexting' is an increasingly common activity among young people where they share inappropriate or explicit images online or through mobile phones.
It can also refer to written messages.
As a parent, it is important to understand the risks so that you can talk to your child about how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable.
Regrettably, there is a national concern related to young people (under the age of 18 years of age) engaging in sending/sharing inappropriate/indecent photographs of themselves or of other children via texts, SnapChat messages, Facebook, Instagram etc. As a result of this national concern, schools have received advice regarding this safeguarding matter, this information has been shared in an age appropriate manner with students via assemblies. Key elements to be aware of include:
The definition of sexting is 'images or videos generated by children under the age of 18 that are of a sexual nature or are considered to be indecent. These images may be shared between children and young people and/or adults via a mobile phone, webcam, handheld device or website'.
The sharing of sexual videos and pictures of children under the age of 18, even if the child/young person shares an image of themselves, is a criminal offence - Specifically, crimes involving indecent photographs of a person under 18 years of age fall under Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 and Section 160 Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Under this legislation it is a crime to take an indecent photograph or allow an indecent photograph to be taken; make an indecent photograph (this includes downloading or opening an image that has been sent via email/text/SnapChat etc.); distribute or show such an image; possess with the intention of distributing images; advertise and possess such images.
The school has been instructed that if anyone under the age of 18 years old shares/sends an explicit image of themselves, or an explicit image of anyone else under the age of 18, or engages in any of the behaviours listed above, then they are duty-bound to consider consulting with the relevant external agencies ie. LSCB Safeguarding Team, Social Services, the Police. The school's default position will be that it will consult with external agencies should there be a significant age difference between the sender and receiver; if there is any sense of coercion, if the image is of a severe or extreme nature; if the situation is not isolated and the image has been more widely distributed; if it was not the first time an individual had been involved in a sexting act or if there was any malicious intent.
What is sexting
'Sexting' is the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet.
Young people may also call it:
Sending a nudie, picture or selfie
'Sexting' is often seen as flirting by children and young people who feel that it's a part of normal life.
Click here to view a helpful factsheet on Sexting
How common is sexting
'Sexting' is more common than you may think and has been found to be commonplace amongst children and young people.
There was a 28% increase in calls to ChildLine in 2012/13 that mentioned 'sexting' than in 2011/12 - nearly one every day.
Most young people do not see 'sexting' as a problem and are reluctant to talk to adults about it because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away.
Normal teenage behaviour
Sending pictures and inappropriate content has become normal teenage behaviour.
What are the dangers of sexting
Young people may see 'sexting' as harmless activity but there are risks. Taking, sharing or receiving an image, even voluntarily, can have a long-lasting negative impact.
It may be common but 'sexting' is illegal. By sending an explicit image a young person is producing and distributing child abuse images and risks being prosecuted, even if the picture is taken and shared with their permission.
No control of images and how they are shared
It's easy to send a photo or message but the sender has no control about how it's passed on. When images are stored or shared online they become public. They can be deleted on social media or may only last a few seconds on apps like Snapchat, but images can still be saved or copied by others.
These images may never be completely removed and could be found in the future, for example when applying for jobs or university.
Vulnerable to blackmail, bullying and harm
Young people may think 'sexting' is harmless but it can leave them vulnerable to:
An offender may threaten to share the pictures with the child's family and friends unless the child sends money or more images.
If images are shared with their peers or in school, the child may be bullied.
Images posted online can attract the attention of sex offenders, who know how to search for, collect and modify images.
Children can feel embarrassed and humiliated. If they are very distressed this could lead to suicide or self-harm.
How to talk to your child about sexting
Acknowledge that your child probably won't want to talk to you about 'sexting'
It may feel awkward but, as a parent, it's important to explain to your child the risks of 'sexting', how to stay safe and that they can talk to you if something ever makes them feel scared or uncomfortable.
Your child may not want to talk about 'sexting', so we have included some advice from young people on how to approach the conversation below.
Think about the best way of starting the conversation
You know your child best and your approach should be based on your child and your parenting style.
When you give your child their first mobile phone, outline your expectations and explain the rules of having the phone
Monitor how younger children can use their phone, e.g. set up controls so that only you can authorise the apps that your child downloads
Ask your child what they feel is acceptable to send to people and then ask if they would be happy for you or their grandparents to see that photo
If the answer is 'no', explain that the image or message is probably not appropriate to send
Make sure your child is comfortable saying no, that they know their body is private and that being asked to 'sext' is inappropriate
Explain the risks of sexting
Tell your child what can happen when things go wrong. Don't accuse your child of 'sexting', but do explain the dangers.
You may find it easiest to use real-life examples, such as television programmes or news stories, to help you explain the risks
Ask them if they would want something private shown to the world. Explain that photos are easy to forward and can be copied
Talk about whether your child thinks that the person who sends a request is likely to be asking other people to do the same
'Exposed': the consequences of sharing images
Reassure your child you will be supportive and understanding
Let your child know that you are always there for support if they feel pressured by anyone.
What to do if your child has been affected by sexting
If you find out that your child has been 'sexting' they are likely to be anxious about talking to you. Where possible give yourself time to process this information and remember your child will be closely watching your reactions.
Try to remain calm and supportive
Reassure your child that they are not alone
Listen and offer support
If there is a problem your child will be feeling bad and needs your help, support and advice, not criticism
Try not to shout or make your child feel like it is their fault
Don't ask questions like "why have you done it", as your child will feel embarrassed and guilty
Ask your child what they want to happen. This will depend on the situation but:
Take immediate steps where possible
Reassure your child that the issue will be addressed even if you need a little time to work out the best course of action for the long term
Agree a set of actions to address the issue, e.g.
reporting the abuse
getting additional counselling
If you have a trusted friend it may be helpful to discuss this with them
Call the NSPCC helpline to talk to one of our trained counsellors
Tell your child they can phone ChildLine for additional support