Providing a safe online environment relies on the same principles as in any environment. We know it isn’t possible or practical to constantly monitor children’s use of the internet. It’s also important for children and young people to build their own understanding of risk, and to have the ability to learn without feeling they are being watched. So how can we keep children in our lives safe, while allowing them reasonable privacy?
It’s the relationships we have with children that enables them to be safe.
Research tells us that all people, including children find feelings of safety in their relationships with others* (Hughes & Baylin, 2016). This theory, which you may have heard of before, is often referred to as attachment.
Knowing that their parents or other adults in their life will help them to be healthy, happy and well, helps a child to feel safe.
Safety is a feeling that wraps around children and young people. It comes when we consistently let them know they are valued, important and respected. Children feel safe when they feel understood and listened to and that the people in their lives understand what they need, what upsets them and what helps them to feel better.
Safety is the reassurance we give children that life will be okay and there is always someone they can rely on if they need help.
Safety comes from sharing the fun times together. Safety is found when we show an interest in the things children and young people care about. They feel safe when we don’t judge them or their friends; they feel accepted for who they are.
Safety is present when an adult steps in to protect children when they are in a situation that is dangerous or risky. Safety is the feeling that children have when they can trust adults to put them first.
When it comes to keeping children and young people safe online, it really does take a community. They need a network of strong, safe relationships around them to enable them to be and feel safe.
One of the first steps we can take as adults is to understand where we belongs in a child’s safety circle.
If you are concerned that a child may be in significant danger now, report your worries to the police or child protection authorities.