As well as ensuring that all the children and young people you work with are using the internet safely and not giving away private information about themselves, workers and volunteers must ensure their own safety too.

If you work with children and young people, you should use the same security and internet privacy settings that you recommend to children and young people so that you are not left open to online abuse, false accusations, cyberstalking or bullying.

Key points to remember:

  • Pick a strong password: Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters, and punctuation marks (like ! and &)
  • Make sure your email account(s) are secure
  • Log out of social networks when you use a computer you share with other people
  • Run anti-virus software on your computer
  • Facebook lists these extra security features
  • Think before you click or download anything – Watch out for suspicious links, and always make sure you are on the correct website before you enter your login information
  • Use login verification
  • Never give your username and password out to untrusted third parties, especially those promising to get you followers or make you money
  • Make sure your computer and operating system is up-to-date with the most recent patches, upgrades, and anti-virus software
  • Do not put your email address, address or phone number in your profile’s summary
  • Only connect to people you know and trust
  • Only share information you want people to know about you, keep your private life private
  • Report any privacy issues to the Customer Service pages of the site you are using
  • Consider carefully the possibly implications of linking to children and young people on-line that you know and work with.

The UK’s Helpline for Professionals, specifically deals with e-safety issues as part of the UK Safer Internet Centre. It is designed for all professionals and volunteers in the South West who work with children and young people, aiming to address online safety issues that workers might face, both professionally and personally.

The helpline can be contacted by email: helpline@saferinternet.org.uk or telephone on 0844 3814772 (calls on this number are charged at local call rate).

Research, by the University of Plymouth confirms that abuse of professionals (and volunteers) online, is a significant issue in this sector, with over 1 in 3 people experiencing or witnessing such an incident. The research also concludes that 30% of incidents did not receive any resolution from senior management.

The research can be downloaded from the South West Grid For Learning website. The aim of the Helpline for Professionals is to plug this gap and support workers and volunteers to regain control over their professional identity, provide advice on e-safety issues affecting young people, and help staff embrace the digital world in a positive way.

For more information, visit the Safer Internet Helpline, or the South West Grid for Learning.

i-HOP (Information Hub on Offenders’ families with children for Professionals) is run in partnership between Barnardo’s and POPs (Partners of Prisoners). The service provides a one stop information hub for professionals who work with children and families of offenders as well as a free helpline on 0808 802 2013.