As Volunteers in a youth focussed organisation we do everything we can to challenge and develop our young people. We also take every precaution to keep them safe during activities whether this is going through the Green Cross Code with Beaver Scouts or a mountain first aid course at Explorers.
Scouting is about helping young people build confidence and lifelong skills. It does this by adults and young people working in partnership, learning by doing through a structure framework of activities and experiences. Whether we are climbing a mountain or using social media, we should give young people the tools to 'be prepared’.
We now live in a digital age, and much of communication and sharing of information is done electronically from texting and emails to different social media. We have a responsibility as leaders to understand the opportunities and the risks of being online and to help each other to be safe online.
Here are some top tips and discussion starters to think about online safety:
- Role model good behaviour . Consider the language you are using and the photos you are posting. Even think about how you use technology at your meetings, we don’t expect young people to use phones at a meeting, should we?
- Friendships. Are your section members your friends on Facebook? Remember no one under the age of 13 should be using Facebook, even by having a closed page for your group are we encouraging our members to do something they shouldn’t be?
- Appropriate Content.Think about the content you are posting even if it a closed page; make sure there are no full names and no contact details for individuals. Remember as soon as images are posted online they are in the public domain, only post appropriate and sensible images. If you wouldn’t put it in the district newsletter, don’t put it on Facebook. If you wouldn’t say it to the DC don’t tweet it.
- What is your main method of communicating with your section members? Think about the time of day and language you are using in your communications. Try to avoid using abbreviations and always copy in another adult. Sending a message to remind them about meeting at a different location is entirely different from using a text message to tell them about it in the first place.
- Is it worth having a separate email account for Scouting? What about setting up a group email account? Other leaders can see the emails you have sent. Always save a copy of any communications you have sent.
- Don’t enter into private personal messaging with your young people no one else can see what you or the young person is typing. Would you have private 1:1 conversation with a young person that no one else could hear or see?
- All electronic communication with Beavers and Cubs should be done with their parents and carers and NOT the young people. (1% of 5-7 year olds have a smart phone)
Think about sharing these key messages with your sections:
- Never give out personal information to online friends. This includes an instant messaging ID, email address, mobile number, school name and any pictures of you, your family and friends.
- If something is published online, anyone can access it, change it or share it with others. Keep social network profiles private .
- Use webcams with caution and only with family and friends who are already known in the real world, as images can be copied, changed and shared.
- Think carefully about who you have as friends on your social networking and gaming sites, are they really your friends? Think carefully about if and where you should meet people you only “know” online.
- If you would like to know more about helping young people to keep safe online please get in touch with the County Safeguarding Awareness Coordinator. The team can come and run a session for your section. The programme is both interactive and thought provoking and can be tailored for any section from Beavers to Explorers. Those delivering the session have undertaken training delivered by CEOP and the Scout Association.
The following website managed by CEOP, is worthwhile sharing with your young people and is great background reading before your session.