It’s not just parents that need to get switched on

It’s not just parents that need to get switched on

Posted: May 13, 2014 | Admin

Hardly a month goes by without another online safety campaign. Some are better than others but too many have one thing in common; they’re all about raising awareness of the risk and threats. They should be about credible tactics to employ to make themselves safer on specific social media sites.

Children tell us that everybody delivers generic messages about the nature of the threat, but what they need is an understanding of specific safety measures applicable to sites such as Snapchat, Ask.fm, Facebook and Twitter. Too many police services remain seduced by the word ‘cyber’ and focus their strategies on malware coders, attacks and hacking, when the reality is reflected in recent police figures. More are threatened, harassed and harmed via cyberbullying, threats to kill and sexually motivated communication.

The police need to see this as a routine crime. The greatest impact it can have on the behaviour of such offenders is to track them down and hold them to account through the criminal justice system. Too few people are prosecuted for these offences and there is no visible deterrent.

This must become as routine to police as the advice and warning they might give outside a pub or club in any street.

As for parents, any parent not online needs to spend the time to learn the specifics about safety settings and privacy, blocking and reporting, how to report crime and where to go to get help when they need it.

Most information they need is available, but too many still outsource their responsibility.

Your children, your responsibility, your turn to step up.

A report by Jim Gamble, former head of CEOP and current Chief Executive of INEQE Safe and Secure. Originally published in the Belfast Telegraph, May 13th 2014.

#SaferInternetDay2014, Still Confused?

Posted: February 12, 2014 | Admin

In my opinion, Safer Internet Day has become more about white noise, sound bites and photo opportunities than anything else. There are still too many messages from too many sources, reaching too few people. So I’m not convinced that it leaves parents better informed or less confused. All of the undoubted good work is undermined in my opinion, by a lack of clarity about where to go in the midst of an online crisis.

Did you notice Safer Internet Day this year and, if so, what did you think?

Do you feel better informed, better able to navigate the online world or advise your kids because of it?

The fact is few parents, let alone children, know where to go when they need help because the online safety sector is congested with too many charities, agencies, and child protection professionals, many with competing agendas which is why confusion generally rules.

Big charities guard their ground like big business and small charities are forced to fight for funding year on year. That congestion and competition simply adds to the confusion. Someone needs to take the lead and whilst that might mean some noses will to be put out of joint, child protection isn’t an industry that should be driven by competition. It needs to be driven by mature collaboration, focused on what’s best for the child.

This government has, in my opinion, an appalling record when it comes to online protection. They seek the path of least resistance; what’s easy; what’s cheap and what rhetoric will pass for a commitment to protecting our children. They seem to find it easier to attack the internet industry, rather than critically reviewing and challenging their own performance and would rather describe issues relating to web cams and sexting as new and, or emerging problems, when the fact is, they are not. But better to describe them as new than to face the fact that too few resources are committed to the problem.

However, there is no doubt that some in government, not least the present Prime Minister are well intentioned, they are however poorly advised and their initiatives do little other than add to the confusion. The PM should pause and reflect on what works, what doesn’t and why.

With the right leadership, we could create a better internet together. So instead of reinventing the wheel, we should simply pause and plan. We need to identify the best equipped charity or organisation to take the lead and consolidate resources in one single place.

A one stop shop for our families and children is not rocket science. It has been done before, an online centre focused on getting those people who need advice, support or an easy mechanism to report into the right space.

It’s about putting children first, sacrificing individual and organisational egos to declutter the internet safety market, so that children and their families have one place, a hub that takes them quickly and effectively to the information and support they need.

One place, one brand, one purpose.

If we can do that and make it easy to access and the information simple to understand, we will have leap frogged everyone else and Safer Internet Day will be everyday and anyday a member of the public needs it.

They should have done something – Jimmy Savile

Posted: January 17, 2014 | Admin

Sir Jimmy Savile’s own words appear damning. I listened in disbelief to the recording of him espousing the view that Gary Glitter was targeted because of his wealth and celebrity and that he was only viewing some “dodgy” videos in the privacy of his own home.

If the allegations in Mark Williams-Thomas’s documentary are true, then those adults who said nothing when they saw him take children on trips or spend nights with them have to live with the fact that they should have done something.

It’s not good enough to say, “We didn’t know what to do — it was the Seventies”. Those same people lived with their knowledge in the years in which Gary Glitter and Jonathan King were prosecuted and there were investigations into the viewing of child abuse images on the internet involving celebrities such as Pete Townshend and Chris Langham.

Celebrity, wealth and influence were not a bar to investigation and prosecution, so why, if they suspected Jimmy Savile, didn’t they come forward?

Some might find comfort hiding behind the “greater good” theory, the idea that charities would lose out. If you knew and didn’t report because of some perverse allegiance to an organisation or individual, you have served neither well.

If everyone who is now saying they saw things and suspected worse had come forward, this would have been treated as the complex child abuse case that it appears to be.

We must expose the failings of a culture that covered up out of self-interest, fear of causing offence or misplaced loyalty. There are matters that should be the subject of criminal investigation. There also needs to be a wide-ranging review; one that looks at who knew what and when, what they did or did not do, and why?

It will be critical to focus on victims, and while recognising that many will be reluctant to report abuse, most will be watching and listening. Let’s send an unequivocal message that encourages every one of them to come forward now.

A report by Jim Gamble, former head of CEOP and current chief executive of INEQE Safe and Secure. Originally published in The Times, October 5th 2012.

Deputy Chief Constable speaks about Child Protection, offenders and resourcing at INEQE’s conference

Posted: October 30, 2013 | Admin

In the opening speech at INEQE’s conference, Glimpse: Inside the mind of a child sex abuser, Judith Gillespie, the Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), spoke of her burning desire to deal with predatory sex offending with solutions that are carefully thought through and lasting.

The conference brought together a number of leading international experts on child protection, including Dr Michael Bourke the Chief Psychologist for the United States Marshals Service, Dr Joe Sullivan, a Forensic Psychologist specialising in behaviour analysis and offender profiling, Mark Williams-Thomas an investigative reporter and criminologist, Peter Spindler, former Head of Specialist Crime Investigations for the Metropolitan Police who was the national lead for the Jimmy Savile enquiry and Ineqe’s CEO and leading child protection expert Jim Gamble.

Addressing the packed conference hall at Queens University Belfast, Judith said:

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to this important conference Glimpse: Inside the Mind of a Child Sex Abuser.

This is an area of police work which is very close to my heart, and it is my view that once you have been involved in this type of work, even if you move on to something else, your experience influences you and indeed grips you for the rest of your police career. I have a burning drive to deal with predatory sex offenders with solutions that are carefully thought through, and lasting. I think we all have this desire – that is probably what brought you to this conference in the first place and I welcome your interest.

But I want to start by telling you a personal story. As a young Probationary Constable just out of the Training Centre a matter of days, I was called to the scene of an alleged child sex abuse crime. The Sergeant asked me to deal with it as the only female officer in the section, and of course as I was a woman, “I would know how to deal with these things”. I have often reflected in my later service on the standard of investigation I conducted in that case. I had no training, no real understanding and no support to deal with the most vulnerable of victims, the most predatory of offenders, and the most sensitive and insidious of crimes.

In my later service when I was appointed as a Detective Chief Inspector with responsibility for the then Child Abuse and Rape Enquiry units, I made it my business to ensure that something like this should not or could not happen again. This required a truly holistic approach to the challenge, involving the first responders at the scene, the training of the specialist investigators – police, social services and NSPCC, the Forensic Medical Officers, the facilities, the therapeutic support and counselling services, the risk management approach to the offender, the response of the criminal justice system, and the longer term child protection arrangements. My experience of involvement in the investigation of child abuse goes back to the mid 1990s when the Joint Protocol for the Investigation of Child Abuse by police and social workers was undergoing its first review, Area Child Protection Communities were forming, video evidence from vulnerable victims was starting to be accepted in the Courts and the Sex Offenders’ Register was becoming established for the first time on 1 September 1997.

When I look back at our understanding of the issues then, I realise just how far we have come in Northern Ireland in investigating these most complex and serious crimes. Last week saw the official opening of the Rowan Centre – the Sexual Assault Referral Centre which nestles discreetly in the grounds of Antrim Area Hospital – a joint state of the art bespoke facility between the Department of Health and PSNI for victims of sexual assault. This facility has been designed wit the needs of the victim at its centre, and whilst pursuing a criminal justice outcome may not be every victim’s wish at the time, the facilities are there should they choose to do so at a later date. I have no doubt that many child sex abusers are well aware of the difficulties of pursuing a criminal justice outcome for child victims. I reflect on my experience when video evidence was first introduced for vulnerable victims. I recall where a child was giving remote video evidence from a side room with a fixed camera in a Crown Court sexual abuse case, and because the camera could not pick up where she was pointing to in giving her compelling evidence of sexual assault, the Judge asked her to stand on the chair closer to the camera and point to the part of her body where she alleged she had been touched. The vulnerable victim in this case had to make up for the inadequacies of the technology, rather than visa versa.

I believe we really have come a long way from then. The Public Prosecution Service have introduced specially trained and accredited prosecutors. PSNI has established Public Protection Teams, joining up Domestic Abuse, Missing Persons and Child Abuse Investigation Teams and in some cases embedding voluntary organisations, such as Women’s Aid and Victim Support in our response to these crimes. Specialist partnership training with social workers is now the norm, partnership arrangements for the management of sex offenders are well embedded, and essential support to officers working in this often-harrowing area is provided. These are examples of how the PSNI and other Justice and Health agencies have adjusted their shape to meet the unique needs and complexities of the issue, rather than expecting the problem to fit into a neat, existing structure. This is much more than designing a system. This is about the system constantly adjusting and flexing to deal with the complexity of individual cases.

Complacency is our biggest challenge. Complacency in all agencies, not just those who work closely with child sex abuse. The lessons from the Jimmy Savile investigation must be taken forward across all levels of society. I welcome the profile given to this case and it is my hope that this will encourage more victims to come forward and to be believed by agencies who understand the relationship between the powerful predator and the vulnerable victim.

Despite this clear progress, it is still very obvious that there is much we still don’t know and don’t fully understand about child sex abuse, and child sex abusers. This is one of the most complex crime areas of all because it is all about people – and people do not fit into neat boxes. It is about people who are victimised and often at their most vulnerable. It is about the people who commit these crimes, it is about the people who work together to safeguard the vulnerable, and it is about how people in the wider community deal with these crimes in their midst. There are few crimes which play more on the emotions of society than child sex abuse. But it is only by trying to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of these issues that we can truly start to develop thoughtful, sensitive, holistic strategies to deal with it. These must not be strategies which are developed in the heat of a crisis. It is important to step back, consult, consider and plan. Knee jerk reactions seldom contain long-term solutions and often serve to do more harm in the long run.

I want to welcome the fact that organisations are reflecting on the learning from offending behaviour, and we are developing a better understanding of the motivation and factors that influence predators. I am also hugely encouraged by the diversity of people in this room today, ranging from statutory agencies including my colleague ACC Mark Hamilton from PSNI, to voluntary sector, to academics and investigative journalists. The beauty of Northern Ireland is that we are big enough to make a strategic difference, but small and local enough to build with individual people relationships of support and trust that matter so much in this complex area.

I want to make an important point in closing however. Like every other sector organisation, PSNI is under financial pressure. This financial pressure quite rightly requires us to focus our efforts where they are likely to make the biggest difference, to protect the most vulnerable and to deal with the most serious harm. Night after night however, police resources are required to police tensions caused by unresolved parade and protest issues. With finite resources, this requires senior police to divert precious and highly skilled police resources from dealing with child sex offending for example, and there are many others, instead to stand in public order kit to keep opposing community factions apart. This is not sustainable, and children will be harmed as a result of police resources not being diverted. I call upon all those of influence to use that influence to resolve these on-going community issues. The PSNI deal with the symptoms of a much deeper-seated community problem for which policing alone will never be the answer.

I commend this conference to you today. It is an opportunity to learn, to network – which of course includes the word ‘work’, and as Lord Laming in his update report following the Baby Peter Review put it, the opportunity to be professionally curious and to deliver constructive challenge. Sometimes you may feel like you are pushing the proverbial rock up a hill – and whilst there is still much to do and to understand, I hope I’ve reminded you of how far we’ve come, and encouraged you to keep going. Margaret Mead said “never, ever doubt the power of a small group of committed individuals to change the world – for often it’s the only thing that has”. You’re a group of highly committed individuals and whilst you may not change the whole world, but for some of the most vulnerable children, you just might.

Thank you.

Download a copy of the full text of Deputy Chief Constable’s speech here

h2bsafer Online – 3 Simple things you can do!

Posted: October 29, 2013 | Admin

A Quick Checklist

3 things you can do that will make your online existence safer.

1) Use the Safety Settings Provided.

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Good mobile phones like the iPhone range come with Pre-installed safety settings.  Make sure you read and understand them and apply those that best meet your needs.

If you are giving a child a phone, think about presetting the settings to provide the level of protection suitable for them and password controlling it before you give it to them.

Many other devices, such as the X-box, Sony PlayStation, Satellite TV boxes as well as computers have useful safety settings that make limiting inappropriate content or contact easier.

2) Safer Social Networking

Blue-iconsSocial media is here to stay, whether you are on Facebook, Google+ or any other popular social networking site you should think about privacy and safety.

Read the Terms and Conditions – What limits do they set?  Do they restrict age? Do they reinforce privacy measures and are they easy to understand?  Do you know what you are agreeing to? READ THEM!

Privacy Settings – The settings on good sites will be easy to understand and access.  They will allow you to protect your privacy by allowing you to decide who sees what?  If they don’t DON’T USE THE SITE unless you are prepared for anyone to see what you say, where you are and what you are doing.

Blocking – Good sites will have easy blocking mechanisms that allow you to stop someone following or engaging with you if you don’t want them too.  Blocking buttons should be easy to see and use.

Moderation – Good sites will provide some type of moderation.  This might be human oversight or built in systems that identify abusive language and or inappropriate content.  Check whether your site is moderated.  All children’s sites should be moderated.

Reporting – Good social networking sites will have a well-resourced reporting function.  The button should be easy to access and use.  If you cannot see it, it is no use to you.  Check the site.  A reporting button is only as good as the system and people behind it.  If you make a report and don’t receive a reply within a reasonable time you might want to think about whether the site takes safety seriously.  Good sites will reply promptly.

Safety Centers – Well-established sites will provide access to a safety center where you can access advice on best practice, how to make the best use of the site and how to keep your self and young users safe.

Some sites will provide access to third party support such as charities or organisations like CEOP, NCMEC in the US and the Virtual Global Taskforce site.  Providing access to these sites is a positive safety measure and indicates a commitment to facilitating external support when necessary.

3) Backup Stuff

If it is important to you, don’t risk losing it – back it up!

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Backing up important work, documents or photos is easier than it has ever been before.  Use a cloud account to routinely store, back up and protect your valuable information and memories.  You might want to consider setting up a Dropbox account or similar service.  Dropbox provides Apps for Windows iOS and smart phones.  Reasonable storage space to get you started is free.

If you are not sure how, simply Google the information and follow the instructions.

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA

Posted: October 29, 2013 | Admin

In simple terms social media is a set of online tools used to communicate and engage with people and includes:

  • writing a blog or commenting on people’s blogs
  • micro-blogging e.g. Twitter
  • a personal profile page on one of the social or business networking sites e.g. Linkedin, Facebook, Google+
  • reviews of products or services on retailer sites, or customerreview sites
  • taking part in online votes, polls and surveys
  • taking part in conversations on public and privateweb forums (messageboards)
  • using specifically designed “Apps”, e.g. Snapchat

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Social media can involve activity between individuals as well as a group of friends who want to share information on what they’re up to, or publish blogs, photos, their music and videos (Facebook & myspace) through to professional industry and informal business networks sharing best practice and building contacts (LinkedIn).

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Since its inception social networking has attracted a lot of bad press.  This is largely due to incidents of online bullying, inappropriate behaviour and grooming by child sex abuse predators.  The fact is however that such damaging behaviour represents only a fraction of day to day life in the world of social media.  The vast majority of online interaction in most of these online spaces are empowering and positive.

It is important to remember that the technology by itself hurts no one, people misusing it cause the harm.  It is therefore critically important that parents, carers and users of all ages understand how to identify and avoid inappropriate behaviour.  Equally users need to take the time to configure their pages and online spaces to give them the best possible privacy and security.

Safer Social Networking – What to look for in a Good Social Networking Site

Posted: October 29, 2013 | Admin

Safer Social Networking

Social media is here to stay, whether you are on Facebook, Google+ or any other popular social networking site you should think about privacy and safety.

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Read the Terms and Conditions – What limits do they set?  Do they restrict age? Do they reinforce privacy measures and are they easy to understand?  Do you know what you are agreeing to? READ THEM!

privacy-icon-bluePrivacy Settings – The settings on good sites will be easy to understand and access.  They will allow you to protect your privacy by allowing you to decide who sees what?  If they don’t, DON’T USE THE SITE unless you are prepared for anyone to see what you say, where you are and what you are doing.

cyberbullyingicon-blueBlocking – Good sites will have easy blocking mechanisms that allow you to stop someone following or engaging with you if you don’t want them too.  Blocking buttons should be easy to see and use.

Moderation – Good sites will provide some type of moderation.  This might be human oversight or built in systems that identify abusive language and or inappropriate content.  Check whether your site is moderated.  All children’s sites should be moderated.

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Reporting – Good social networking sites will have a well-resourced reporting function.  The button should be easy to access and use.  If you cannot see it, it is no use to you.  Check the site.  A reporting button is only as good as the system and people behind it.  If you make a report and don’t receive a reply within a reasonable time you might want to think about whether the site takes safety seriously.  Good sites will reply promptly.

Safety Centers – Well-established sites will provide access to a safety center where you can access advice on best practice, how to make the best use of the site and how to keep your self and young users safe.

Some sites will provide access to third party support such as charities or organizations like CEOP, NCMEC in the US and the Virtual Global Taskforce site.  Providing access to these sites is a positive safety measure and indicates a commitment to facilitating external support when necessary.

SEXTING – Is Your Child Breaking the Law?

Posted: October 29, 2013 | Admin

‘Sexting’ Making, possessing or distributing an indecent image of a child is a crime!

Sexting has been defined as “the creating, sharing, and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude, or nearly nude images” (Lenhart, 2009). In simple terms, taking a sexually explicit photograph and texting (sharing) it via your mobile phone to others.

This sexually explicit content can easily be distributed between people, through the use of smartphones, the Internet, and through online social networking sites. Recent studies claim that up to 39% of teens and 59% of young adults have sexted at least once.

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Whilst adults risk embarrassment if a photo they have sent to another adult is posted or shared with a wider audience the implications for children are much greater. Children and young people need to understand the dangers that sexting can pose.  Once an image has been sent it is out of their control and may be shared on and offline with other people.  They will have no control over who sees it and what they choose to do with it.

In the UK a child is a person under the age of 18.  Sexting can lead to a range of problems for a child; cyberbullying; grooming and an enhanced level stranger danger. It can lead to serious mental health issues caused by the fear of what might happen leading to depression and a desperation that drives young people to self harm or to contemplate suicide.

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PARENTS TIPS

  •  Develop an understanding – Google ‘sexting’, read about real cases and think about what that might mean if it was your child.
  •  Demonstrate knowledge – Your kids might tell you that people who use Snapchat, or other social media that delete images after viewing, are protected against wider sharing. THEY ARE NOT. There are numerous ways to get around the delete process.
  •  Speak to your child – Think about the things you did as a young person and reflect on how your life might have been if social media had existed then.  Help them reflect on what you have learned by researching some recent cases.
  •  Trust – Build a trusting relationship.  If you cannot talk openly, you cannot help. What sites do they use?  Have any of their friends had problems with sexting? If so what have they learned form it?
  •  Follow the @h2bsaferonline twitter feed, it will keep you up to date with emerging trends and risks.

It is important to take swift action when you know an image has been taken or shared. Children need to feel they can talk to someone so that they can report their fear that an image has been shared with a responsible adult.  If an image is posted online they and or the responsible adult should take steps to inform/report it to the Internet service provider or reporting it to the service provider. As an addition they could make contact with an appropriate charity for advice and support, e.g., Childline in the UK to inform CEOP.

www.cybermentors.org.uk provides great support and advice.

Remember that by sexting, you may be breaking the law. Making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children is a criminal offence.

Protect your Children & Leave more Cash in Your Pocket

Posted: October 29, 2013 | Admin

Parents often feel at their wits end when it comes to technology. They want to protect their kids but are seduced by the apparent complexity of the internet and the range of devices by which their kids access it.

But it is not just the bullies and online predators they need to worry about. Reports in the media have highlighted how children who can access the iTunes store via iPods, iPads and iPhones can run up huge bills downloading Apps and games. In fact a six year old happily clicked away £2,000.

The irony is however that the technology used provides settings to protect your children and your pocket. Safety settings in Apple products allow you to make decisions about what Apps can be downloaded, whether to permit access to YouTube or Facebook and the age restrictions of the iTunes movies it will, or perhaps more importantly will not play.

For an easy to follow guide for anyone using an iPhone try the h2bsafer for iPhone App

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