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Digital child protection policy
This policy applies to all Scottish Book Trust staff and the Board of Trustees, as well as to contractors, consultants, freelancers, creative practitioners, student placements, interns or anyone else working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust.
The purpose of this policy is to protect children and young people (those under the age of 18) in an online capacity when they are participating in Scottish Book Trust programmes. This is not intended to supersede or replace our existing child protection policy, and will instead complement delivery of specifically digital programmes and events.
Specific guidelines for staff, freelancers and volunteers on the basic principles that guide our approach to child protection can be found in the Child Protection Policy.
Scottish Book Trust believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind. We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people and to keep them safe at all times and in all settings, and we are committed to carrying out our activities in a way that protects them.
Roles and responsibilities
Scottish Book Trust’s Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive are responsible for ensuring an appropriate Child Protection Policy is in place and staff are trained in the use of the policy. The policy is reviewed annually by the Designated Child Protection Officer to ensure it is up to date and compliant with current legislation and best practice.
Scottish Book Trust has a Designated Child Protection Officer (DCPO), and a deputy, to whom staff can refer any concerns or issues regarding child protection or discuss and seek guidance on child protection more generally. The contact details are as follows:
We recognise that:
- The welfare of the child is paramount.
- All young people, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse.
- Whilst working in online and digital spaces presents unique challenges to existing child protection procedures, adherence and awareness of our existing policies and procedures is essential.
- Some children are additionally vulnerable or at risk through digital platforms, and we are required to be aware of those risks.
- Child protection in a digital context is the responsibility of every adult working in this setting.
What are the potential risks?
- Children may be exposed to upsetting or inappropriate content online, particularly if the platform doesn’t have robust privacy and security settings. This content might be sexually explicit or violent or harmful in other ways.
- Children may be at risk of being groomed, particularly if they have means through which they can be contacted privately.
- Children’s posts or profile information may expose personal information and put them at risk. For example, they may talk about their home life, feelings, or thoughts they’ve been having. There may be information that makes them identifiable such as locations of events they are taking part in or visual clues in photographs. Perpetrators may use this information to groom, abuse or exploit children.
- Identifiable information being exposed online may also put children at risk from cyberbullying, which can include sending, porting or sharing negative, harmful false or mean content, including personal or private information. This is especially prevalent through social media.
- Perpetrators of abuse may create fake profiles to try to contact children and young people, an adult may pose child to gain trust. They may also create anonymous accounts and engage in cyberbullying or trolling. People known to a child can also perpetrate abuse.
- On many platforms, children can be contacted anywhere and at any time through private messaging or notification alerts. This means it can be hard for them to escape from abusive messages or other upsetting content.
We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- Valuing, respecting and listening to children and young people.
- Being mindful of the language we use when we communicate with young people.
- Risk assess digital activities with children as we would any other activity
- Choosing online platforms that are suitable for the project and that keep children and young people safe.
- Being mindful of communication channels, especially between participants.
- When working with under 16-year olds, encouraging parental/guardian participation as much as possible.
- Considering how personal information is shared, especially in a context where you can’t be sure of everyone’s identities.
- Ensuring that consent is obtained for all recorded workshops.
- Ensuring no adult is ever alone with a child in an online setting.
- Always ensure oversight from at least three responsible adults when working with a group of children and ensure that everyone is aware of proper channels for communicating concerns. This could involve (but is not limited to) other adults being present in online spaces or having access to records and chat logs.
- Modelling good behaviour and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
- Respecting the agency and expressions of children, even if their means of communicating them are not fully developed, whilst also explaining why there are rules about behaviour and activities.
Online workshops and livestreams
To create a safe environment for children in any livestream we will take safety considerations into account, in addition to following our safeguarding policies and procedures.
For activities not hosted by Scottish Book Trust, we will:
- Familiarise ourselves with the type of content to be used in the stream and check it’s appropriate and relevant.
- Find out how the stream will be used by the host in future, in particular, if it will be kept for archive purposes and whether it will be broadcast as a recorded event.
- Familiarise ourselves with the privacy settings of the platform being used and how to report any offensive or abusive content.
- If children are participating in the livestream, make sure the activity is monitored by appropriate adults.
For activities hosted by Scottish Book Trust, we will:
- Before any livestream, remind children of the following, whether they are watching or participating:
- Live streaming is live, in real time. Any comments children make will be seen by others, and they may not be able to delete or edit what’s been said. It can become part of their digital footprint.
- Children shouldn’t share any personal information during a livestream. Remind them what personal information is and not to respond to contact requests from people they don’t know.
- Make sure they know who to tell if they see or hear anything upsetting or inappropriate.
- Be mindful that, even if a participating child can’t be seen, there may still be identifying information such as their name, email address or a link to their social media account.
- Ensure an appropriate level of staffing is present for any activity. Three staff members should be present at a minimum, though some events may require additional staffing. Giving each member a defined role, such as moderating discussions, or engaging with the audience.
- Never reveal the full identity of individual participants and keep any identifying information private, and be particularly sensitive to the needs of those who may be at an additional risk, such as those from care-experienced backgrounds.
- If the event is public, ensure to the best of our ability that people are who they say they are, and only include those who should be there. This can include asking the audience to register to watch the stream and issuing a log in and password.
- Always ensure we use an appropriate platform for the activity, being aware that some platforms do not allow you to restrict the audience.
- Ensure the platform has appropriate tools for moderating comments, questions and user names. This should include familiarising staff with functionality and available tools.
- Be sensitive to the needs of individual children, for example those who may be sensitive to particular topics or issues that may arise during the livestream.
- Make sure the platform we use is accessible to d/Deaf and disabled children.
- Anyone working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust appearing in the livestream will make sure their surroundings and environment are appropriate – they should be in a neutral area where nothing personal or inappropriate can be seen or heard in the background.
Scottish Book Trust Staff
Certain staff members may, on occasion, need to contact children through social media or other online communication channels. This section outlines a code of conduct for adults in this situation
We will always:
- Use accounts that have been authorised by Scottish Book Trust to communicate with children and young people, and never use personal accounts for work with young people or related activity.
- Never contact a young person directly through any social media channel.
- Turn on privacy settings on accounts that are used to interact with children and young people
- Use an organisational device to communicate with young people (in a situation where this isn’t possible, managers should authorise individual staff and volunteers to use a personal device on a case-by-case basis and keep a record of this authorisation).
- Ensure all communications are relevant to the work of the project and organisation.
- Use age-appropriate language.
Creative practitioners and delivery partners
Authors, illustrators, creative practitioners or other freelancers working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust may use social media for their own professional and private use. While this policy covers work specifically with Scottish Book Trust, it is not intended to cover all social media activity by those working on our behalf. However, there are some additional considerations that should be observed for those in that situation.
- Never engage in direct and repeat contact with children and young people through social media. This includes responding to direct messaging or posts.
- Be mindful of the other content on your social media and whether it is suitable for a younger audience.
- Be mindful of giving out information about your social media while working with children and young people.
- Use age-appropriate language.
- If a concern is raised by a third party, we will address this concern through the procedure outlined in the Child Protection Policy.
Raising a Concern
If you have a concern about the welfare of a young person, the reporting procedure is identical to the normal processes outlined in our Child Protection Policy (Section D), and should be taken to a Designated Child Protection Officer in the first instance.
If online abuse occurs, we will respond to it by:
- Having clear and robust safeguarding procedures in place for responding to abuse.
- Providing support for staff members involved.
- Training for all staff and volunteers on dealing with all forms of abuse, including bullying/cyberbullying, emotional abuse, sexting, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.
- Making sure our response takes the needs of the person experiencing abuse, any bystanders and our organisation as a whole into account.
- Reviewing the plan developed to address online abuse at regular intervals, in order to ensure that any problems have been resolved in the long term.