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Raising Awareness: The “It’s not okay” child sexual exploitation campaign

Tomorrow, Wednesday 13th May,  Project Phoenix are holding a Parents’ Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day. Rolled out throughout Greater Manchester, the “It’s not okay” child sexual exploitation campaign involves public and third sectors partners including police, health, education, social care and beyond.

The campaign is supported from senior leaders within the area, and is targeted at parents to help raise awareness and provide information on what child sexual exploitation is and how to spot the tell-tale signs.

There will be two key events taking place throughout the day:

  • Various events including stalls, leaflets, banners, pr and media events across all divisions will take place, Manchester-wide, to raise awareness about the importance of Internet safety and the dangers of online grooming.
  • An ‘ask me anything’ webchat with a mum whose child was groomed by an older ‘friend’ will stream, so that other parents can ask questions and benefit from her difficult experience. A social worker and and expert from PACE UK (parents against child sexual exploitation) will also be present.

At Perpetual Fostering, we promote the provision of safe, stable environments for children and young people in both short and long term placements. Our focus is on high quality care with the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of our children as the highest priority.

If you are concerned about your child being sexually exploited or if you want to join the conversation and support the campaign, find out more from Project Phoenix here. You can also stay in the know on events and updates by following It’s not ok on Twitter or by finding them on Facebook.

For top tips and advice on how you can stay digitally diligent when it comes to online safety, check out our recent post on the blog “Staying Safe Online: Digital DOs and DON’Ts“. 

How can you teach children to stay safe online? How do you educate them about the benefits of the Internet, whilst also helping them to remain web-savvy against inappropriate content?

We are pleased to report that in our recent 2015 Ofsted Report, we were rated “good” when it comes to safeguarding children and young people. Protecting our children is of the utmost importance and a significant focus within the agency. As the report quite rightly states: “safeguarding, child protection, and safe caring courses are all mandatory training for foster carers” with “up-to-date policies and procedures in place” to guide those who have the responsibility of looking after children and young people.

As an independent fostering agency focused on providing high quality care, the safety, wellbeing, and welfare of our children is paramount to our work and core values. We encourage all of our foster carers to stay educated and fully informed when it comes to staying digitally diligent.

Communication with your foster child is key. Remain open, trusted, and approachable by providing open doors of conversation and opportunities for age-appropriate discussions. Create an environment where it is easy for your child to feel comfortable and confident to come and talk about any fears they have or any questions they may want to ask. Have these conversations – even with young children – so that they remain aware and stay safe; the aim is not to scare or instil fear but to develop a mindful consciousness and provide guidance about the importance of staying safe online.

Consider DOing the following:

  • Put the computer/laptop in a lounge or family room with the screen facing outward.
  • Install software so that the Internet wifi will disconnect after each session, meaning an adult will have to log on each time.
  • Add any malicious websites to the parental control filter list.
  • Prevent your child from searching certain words or phrases.
  • Have open discussions with your child so that they know that threatening, bullying, and abusive behaviour/language is never ok.
  • Make sure your child understands to never willfully download unknown files.
  • Set time limits and make sure your child takes a break every 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Ensure that your computer has up-to-date antivirus and filtering software.
  • Scan your computer regularly for malware.
  • Stay abreast of issues such as viruses, phishing scams, trolls, general social networking etiquette, privacy, etc.

Definite DON’Ts when it comes to Internet safety:

  • Ensure that your child knows never give out personal details to a stranger, including: their age, sex, photographs, home address, phone number, bank details, passwords, etc.
  • Don’t let your child visit chat rooms without adult supervision.
  • Never let them agree to a private chat with a stranger.
  • Make sure they know never to accept friendship requests from strangers.

If you have any questions for anyone in our fostering community or would like professional support about any aspect of foster care, contact Perpetual Fostering today – we’d love to hear from you. To read the Ofsted Report in full, click here.

If you are ever concerned about illegal materials or suspicious online behaviour, contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP).