Skip to main content

Ban the bullies

cyber bullying

 

The Duke of Cambridge joined the launch of the Stop, Speak, Support campaign in November last year.  This was launched to combat cyber-bullying.  It’s reassuring that this strategy hit the headlines and has attracted high profile interest – safety online is at the top of most parents’ concerns.

As soon as your child gets a mobile phone they have access to the internet world and it’s hard to know if they’ll be safe.  There are so many horror stories about bullying on social media, grooming and trolling – how can you keep your child safe without invading their privacy and becoming ‘Super Ogre’?

The not-for-profit company, Internet Matters, has plenty of information about both the Stop, Speak, Support campaign and internet safety for children on their website.

Managing child safety

The potential for cyberbullying is a subject that we consider a lot in our strategy. The website update we carried out three years ago had child safety designed into it as a fundamental part of the architecture.

The learning system is set up so that every child has their own learning account. If they are interacting with one of our teachers on the Helpline, the teacher can create a private classroom on a secure whiteboard to work with them.

All phone calls are recorded and online whiteboard sessions too – and there is only ever one child and the teacher in the online classroom.

When the online system was developed we also deliberately chose NOT to include social forums, simply because they posed a potential challenge for cyber-bullying.  Often the reason children’s performance drops at school is because they are targeted in some way, so it’s important that any other learning they do is free of those elements.

Our policy is that children’s emails are not used or stored in our database and they do not share their email address with the online teachers, so everything is channelled through their parent’s or carer’s email address, to allow monitoring. If parents specifically ask us to use a child’s email address, even for an older child, we will discourage unless they absolutely insist.

Keeping data secure

Big organisations like Microsoft, Amazon and Google have the resources and skills to develop extremely high levels of security.  As a smaller organisation, our resources could never match theirs, which is why we use remotely-hosted cloud-based systems.  This allows us access to existing secure systems with global-class security, far beyond what we could hope to achieve independently.

Our view is that any company where children are involved online should design in child safety from the start with a robust monitoring system to catch any potential problems before they cause damage.  For many online companies the cost of this can seem to be high, but it’s essential to do what’s right for the child – no compromises.

To find out more about the Stop, Speak, Support campaign please go to their website.