Guidance to be released to help charities safeguard children online

Charities working with young people are to be issued with guidance to help their workers ensure the safety of children online.

Guidance through the online portal is to be developed by children’s charity Barnardo’s with £500,000 in initial funding from technology firm Nominet. It is aimed at all professionals who work with children, including charities workers, as well as families and carers.

Also involved is parenting advice service Parent Zone.

A key factor behind the ‘Project Backpack’ portal is to streamline existing guidance already available to professionals and avoid “duplication and the large volume of legacy resources available to them”.

Another is to boost the confidence of those working with children to ensure their safety online and help them better identify risks and support needed.

The guidance also stresses the need to “co-design” support with children to ensure it is “relevant to young people’s experiences”.

The first phase of producing the online resource takes place until June 2022 and involves user research and piloting delivery of advice. This will then be evaluated and rolled out UK wide.

Barnardo’s co-chief executive Michelle Lee-Izu said the guidance will provide “advice, in real-time, about how to help young people avoid risks online”.

“The internet gives children amazing opportunities to learn, play and socialise, but unfortunately it also presents significant risks to children’s safety,” she said.

“It’s extremely important that parents, carers and professionals supporting children have the knowledge and confidence to help children stay safe.”

Nominet, interim chief executive Eleanor Bradley added: “We’re looking forward to Project Backpack evolving to tangibly help professionals support young people who are vulnerable to online risks.”

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