The Safer Schools and Communities Team (SSCT) is a partnership between Dorset Police, The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service with a remit to provide targeted interventions to prevent/reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and wrong-doing amongst children and young people and help keep them safe in a digital world.
The Safer Schools and Communities Team have collated advice for parents, carers and guardians to help guide and support children and young people in keeping safe. This includes what to do if your child is being bullied (on or offline) has sent or received indecent images, found in possession of drugs or is being exploited.
If your child is being bullied, don't panic. Your key role is listening, calming and providing reassurance that the situation can get better when action is taken.
Schools in England have a legal duty to ensure the safety of all children and young people and to prevent all forms of bullying. Most of the time schools are willing and able to manage concerns about bullying but sometimes children and their parents and carers feel that the school are not listening and that they need to take further action. If you feel you need to then follow the schools complaints procedure. For more information click here
The Bullying Alliance suggests the following action:
- Listen and reassure them that coming to you was the right thing to do. Try and establish the facts. It can be helpful to keep a diary of events to share with the school or college.
- Assure them that the bullying is not their fault and that they have family that will support them. Reassure them that you will not take any action without discussing it with them first.
- Don't encourage retaliation to bullying - such as violent actions. It's important for children to avoid hitting or punching an abusive peer. Reacting that way has negative and unpredictable results- they may be hurt even further, and find that they are labelled as the problem. Rather suggest that they walk away and seek help.
- Find out what your child wants to happen next. Help to identify the choices open to them; the potential next steps to take; and the skills they may have to help solve the problems.
- Encourage your child to get involved in activities that build their confidence and esteem, and help them to form friendships outside of school (or wherever the bullying is taking place).
- Discuss the situation with your child's teacher or Head teacher - or the lead adult wherever the bullying is taking place. Every child has a right to a safe environment in which to learn and play. Schools must have a behaviour policy which sets out the measures that will be taken to prevent all forms of bullying between pupils.
Cyberbullying is bullying that is carried out via digital technology. It includes:
- Sending threatening or abusive text messages
- Creating and sharing embarrassing images or videos
- 'trolling' - sending menacing or upsetting messages on social networks
- Chat rooms or online games
- Excluding children from online games, activities or friendship groups
- Setting up hate sites or groups about a particular child
- Encouraging young people to self-harm
- Voting for or against someone in an abusive poll
- Creating fake accounts
- Hijacking or stealing online identities to embarrass a young person or cause trouble using their name
- Sending explicit messages, also known as sexting
- Reassuring children into sending sexual images or engaging in sexual conversations
It can be very difficult to spot the signs that a child is being cyberbullied, and no individual sign will confirm that bullying is happening. Parents and professionals need to look out for signs. Things such as:
- Changes in behaviour
- Becoming distressed or withdrawn
- Not wanting to go to school
- Sleeping or eating poorly
- Being secretive about use of their phone or tablet
- Having problems with friends
Cyberbullying, as with all bullying, can lead to mental health issues – if this seems to be the case, the young person should be seen by their GP.
Try to help young people by talking to them about cyberbullying and make sure they know who to go to if they have problems. If they do have a problem, talk to them about what choices they have in dealing with the cyberbullying.
The issue should usually be raised with the school (or other organisation) involved in the bullying. The young person may need some technical assistance to block bullies online or to make their accounts private. In addition, evidence of the bullying may need to be saved, for example as screenshots, or logs made to provide evidence.
Parents can also encourage the child to do activities they enjoy which can help build confidence, self-esteem and friendships.
Parents need to be aware of the further action that may be required if the school or organisation’s response is not satisfactory. This will vary depending on whether the school is a maintained (local authority) school, academy or private/independent school.
For more information click here.
Discovering that your child is taking drugs can leave you feeling worried, guilty and isolated. However, it’s important to remember that you're not alone - many other parents will have found themselves in a similar position, and there's lots of help available.
For helpful advice and honest information about drugs, whether you are worried about a friend, a child or yourself, there is support available.
We spend the first few years doing everything we can to protect our children, then we have to learn how to give them some independence.
Teaching children simply to avoid strangers doesn’t work. Most strangers will help rather than harm children. Conversely, it is often people known to children that pose the greatest threat. That’s why we’ve invented Clever Never Goes.
Clever Never Goes teaches children to recognise when someone (anyone) is asking them to go with them. We call this ‘Go Spotting’. It’s about giving your child practical safety skills and confidence to engage with the outside world.
We all want to keep our children safe You’ve probably already talked to them about things like crossing the road safely. But have you spoken to them about how to stay safe from sexual abuse? We know it’s a conversation no parent wants to have, but we believe it can feel just as natural, and be just as easy, as the road safety chat. We call it talking PANTS. From P through to S, each letter gives an important message for children as young as four to help them stay safe. They have also created a fun and engaging video for children here.
With the support of Kayleigh’s family, Leicestershire Police made a film showing parts of the last 14 days of her life. Kayleigh’s Love Story is a warning to young people, both girls and boys, about online grooming and the dangers of speaking to strangers or ‘friends’ you only know online. The film highlights how quick and easy it can be for children to be groomed online without them even knowing it is happening. Its purpose is to protect children and stop another family losing a child in this way.
Breck Bednar was a 14-year-old boy from Surrey who was murdered in 2014 after being groomed online. Like many boys of his age, Breck loved technology and spent lots of time gaming – often playing against other online ‘friends’ as part of a wider virtual group. Breck’s Last Game is designed to make young people think about who they are in contact online and asks the question - Do you know who your online friends really are?