Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.23 Social Networking Sites Policy

RELEVANT MATERIALS

Child Safety Online: A practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media.

AMENDMENT

In July 2016 Relevant Materials was added along with a link.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Current Situation
  3. Guidance


1. Introduction

Social networking sites or blogs are places online where children and young people can create personalised web-pages in order to express themselves and share ideas and opinions with others. The sites enable them to meet and socialise online by linking to other sites and therefore create an environment for the whole of their social network to easily exchange information and chat. Children and young people can also post comments and images of themselves or others online. This could compromise their own safety or the safety of those in their network as it leaves them open to contact from inappropriate people. They may also receive negative or vindictive messages known as cyberbullying.


2. Current situation

Education and Children's Services staff are currently not able to access social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Bebo or Twitter) via Slough Borough Council's IT system. However, members of staff are able to access these sites from their own personal computers. It is acknowledged that these sites are popular with the young people with whom staff come into contact professionally and staff have been approached by young people to be their "friend" on these sites and to join their social network.


3. Guidance

No member of staff within Education and Children's Services is permitted to accept or initiate contact in a personal capacity with a child or young person who is a client of the local authority via a social networking site. This also includes young people over 18 who are in receipt of services from the local authority.

Members of staff are also not permitted to place any photographs or information about a child or young person in care or in receipt of services with whom they come into contact in their own personal entries on these sites.

Any social worker who has left the employment of Slough Borough Council but seeks to initiate or accept contact from a child or young person still in receipt of services from Slough Borough Council will be expected to comply with this guidance. Should a social worker fail to comply with this guidance and it is believed that their failure to do so is not in the child or young person's best interests, the local authority will consider taking action via a complaint to the Health and Care Professions Council.

Foster carers approved by Slough Borough Council who look after children and young people in the care of the Borough are also not permitted to accept or initiate contact or to place photographs or information about the child or young person on to any social networking site.

If a child or young person in foster carer has any contact with their birth family on a social networking site, their foster carer is expected to inform the child's social worker and their supervising social worker.

Foster carers should also ensure that they record and report any suspected or actual incidents of bullying or cyber bullying via social networking sites.

Fuller guidance for foster carers in respect of the safety of children and young people and use of the internet is contained in their own handbooks. Ongoing training regarding internet safety will be offered on a regular basis to Slough Borough Council foster carers by the Family Placement Service.

End