⛔️ Safeguarding ALERT: UNICO LIVE App ⛔️

⛔️ Safeguarding ALERT: UNICO LIVE App ⛔️

Posted: December 6, 2019 | admin No Comments

 

UNICO LIVE is the latest app to come onto our radar, which poses significant risks to children and young people. We’ve put together the features, risks and what you can do to protect children and young people in your care.

What is UNICO LIVE?

Released in April this year, UNICO LIVE is a relatively new live-streaming app developed by a Hong Kong based company. The App features unicorn imagery, which may make it attractive to children and young people.

Key features:

● Users can publicly live-stream themselves or share a screen with another person.
● Users can chat, share gifts (of monetary value) and subscribe to be notified of future live streams.
● Users can use stickers and filters to customise their stream.
● Viewers can send love, and share gifts of monetary value.

What we found:

● Our team testing the app found high levels of engagement from adults instructing children to engage in sexualised activity.
● Each live stream has a message stating that streams are moderated 24hrs a day, but there was no evidence of moderation despite open and public requests for young people to remove their clothing.
● There did not appear to be any reporting function.

The issues/concerns:

● The gifting feature on this platform gives individuals with a deviant sexual interest in children, the tools to encourage, entice and exploit vulnerable young people  on the platform via these gifts.
● In one sample live stream, a child younger than ten was being asked to remove her clothing by multiple adult users while simultaneously being gifted coins.
● It appears that this app has been removed from Apple’s UK store and has been brought to the attention of UK police and several safeguarding boards. At the time of publishing, it is still available on Android.

Our Advice:

● Check young people’s devices for this app – and help them remove it.
● Remember even if the app is removed from app stores, it will still work on devices it’s been downloaded on.
● Engage young people in a conversation – about keeping safe online and who they would talk to if someone made them feel uncomfortable online.
● Check that they only engage with other people they know online.
● Check that they understand what they should do if they see something online that upsets or worries them.

You can also submit an online report to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) by clicking here.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

YouTube Set to Overhaul Children’s Content

Posted: November 26, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

This coming January YouTube is set to make changes that will overhaul how children experience content on the platform.

The move comes after YouTube and Google were fined $170 million this year after YouTube channels were found to be collecting Children’s personal data without parental consent, which was then used to target personalised advertisements.

The changes set to take effect mean that:

● Creators will have to tell YouTube if content is made for children.

● The platform will stop using targeted ads on content made for children (but they will still see ‘non-personalised’ ads).

● The comments feature will be removed from children’s content.

● Creators who are found to avoid categorising their content correctly may face consequences.

The platform is set to improve its practices in compliance with the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Google commented, that though the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a US law, changes will take affect globally.

Creators on the platform use personalised ads to monetise their content, where they can earn money by collecting revenue from ads.

YouTube will use ‘machine learning’ to identify videos that target children and young people, which include those that feature:

● Children and or characters known to or targeted at children.

● Popular Children’s shows or animations.

● Play acting, or stories that use or include children’s toys.

● Children’s music, songs, stories and or poems.

This move by YouTube is a positive step in improving the digital environment where young people play, learn and socialise.

But the reliance on content creators and ‘machine learning’ to correctly categorise children’s content, means that some content may not be categorised properly. These new rules will also not apply to content that isn’t expressly aimed at children, particularly where older children begin to watch less child-focused content.

The Platform says that parents and carers should know about YouTube Kids.

In any case, enabling Safe Search filters on YouTube is an extra step that parents and carers can take to help keep children and young people safer on the platform. To find out more visit the Safer Schools Safety Centre

Don’t forget! Check out the ‘Social Media’ section of your Safer Schools App where you will find more help & information on YouTube.

There’s a new way to play – Meet Google Stadia

Posted: November 21, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

What is Google Stadia?

It’s a cloud gaming service where users can play and stream video games to YouTube.

How does it work?

Stadia requires an internet connection, but no console. The platform can be accessed through Google’s Chrome browser on desktop and It’s also set to be available on smartphones, TVs, and Chromecast Ultra devices.

While there’s no certainty on how exact features will work on the platform, we do know that players can game cross platform ‘in the cloud’ without downloading games to their devices. Users will require a controller made and sold by google, but other controllers will still work.

Users will be able to play and stream in real time directly to YouTube.

How much does it cost?

Google Stadia is free to play, but users will have to buy most games. There is a ‘Stadia Pro’ premium subscription service available where users can pay for better screen resolution, surround sound and advert-free experiences. First access is only available by purchasing the ‘Founder’s Edition’ bundle which costs £119.

Potential risks to young people?

As with all games, age ratings are important. If a young person in your care is likely to use Stadia, it’s worth checking that the games they will have access to are appropriate for them.

When interacting with other users, make sure children are aware that if they don’t know them in the real world, they may not be who they say they are on Stadia.

They should also avoid using their full name as their username, and make sure to make a strong password. It’s also a good idea to use an avatar instead of a real picture of them on their profile.

The platform allows live streaming, alongside games. The very nature of live streaming is always unpredictable, young people may be exposed to inappropriate language, or content.

The details of safety settings and parental controls are not yet known. Check back for more updates soon!

Don’t forget! Check out the ‘Gaming’ section of your Safer Schools App for more help & information.

5 Bullying Myths

Posted: November 14, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

There are many different reasons why a young person may be bullied by other young people or adults. The issue can be difficult to deal with, and there are some unhelpful myths about bullying that can complicate things further.

Bullying refers to any harmful behaviour directed at a person or a group. It can be physical, psychological or socially harmful behaviours than inflict harm, stress or injury.

We’ve compiled 5 popular bullying myths to help you understand some of the most common notions about bullying.

 

 

Many adults have experienced bullying at school in their early years and most escaped the situation unscathed. Advice we often got as children was to ‘just ignore it’ and that it would ‘go away’ by itself. But there is nothing normal about being bullied, and this idea can allow harmful behaviours to go unchecked. It also sends a negative message that bullying is something to be tolerated.

No child or adult should be bullied, everyone has the right to live a life free from violence, fear or intimidation.

 

 

When a young person in our care is experiencing violent bullying, it can be tempting to tell them to fight back and stand up for themselves. This is especially true when a young person appears ‘soft’ or an ‘easy’ target.

But retaliating in one off circumstance can often make the situation worse, or get the young person into trouble. There is also the danger that a young person could respond in disproportionate ways, which could land them in serious trouble with the law.

But, we need to be honest and clear with young people, because asking them to ‘not fight back’ could potentially endanger their life in circumstances of extreme and repeated violence. Self-defence is reasonable in certain circumstances and understanding when it’s appropriate to walk away vs defend yourself during a violent attack that show no signs of ending is a difficult call.

Tackling bullying early has a major advantage in preventing harmful escalations like this.

For many adults bullying might have been a ‘normal’ experience, but normal does not equal OK. Schools have long worked to tackling bullying in all forms, and awareness of the issue has seen ‘whole school’ approaches to tackling these behaviours more visible.

The old idea that bullying makes young people tougher is not unheard of, and for some who have experienced bullying this might be a reference to their survivorship.

But the impact of bullying on young people’s self-esteem, mental health and physical health cannot be understated. This is particularly true when bullies attack the very core of their identity in cases of racist or homophobic bullying.

 

For many young people bullying is confined to school environments, where there is a clear support network, policies and safeguarding professionals trained to tackle the issue. But bullying does happen outside of school. Indeed, young people can be bullied by friends, strangers and even family members outside of school.

This issue can be complicated to deal with, but where informal conversations with other young people’s care givers fail, and bullying includes criminal elements– asking the police to intervene can be appropriate to help remedy the problem.

 

Young people often fear that bullying will escalate if they tell a trusted. While this can be true in certain circumstances, steps can be taken to tackle these behaviours. Safeguarding professionals are acutely aware of this, and work to mitigate any negative impacts of a young person reporting harmful behaviour.

Young people who report bullying are not ‘snitches’ or ‘grasses’ they are standing up for themselves. They should be encouraged to approach a trusted adult for support and know that they have the right to be safe at all times.


Signposting to Supports

GOV.UK – Making a complaint about bullying

NSPCC – Bullying and Cyberbullying

Internet Matters – Cyberbullying

Anti Bullying Alliance – Advice for Parents

Bullying UK (Family Lives) – Adivce for Parents

DFE – Advice for Parents and Carers on Cyberbullyig

Kidscape – Adcive for Parents and Carers

For confidential parenting and family support you can contact Family Lives on their website or on 0808 800 2222.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

Do you know these 10 signs of bullying?

Posted: November 12, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

Every child and young person has the right to learn in a safe and healthy environment free from bullying, harassment and intimidation in all forms. Unfortunately, bullying still happens inside and outside of school, but most cases are resolved quickly.

Bullying is harmful behaviours directed at one person or a group. It can include verbal, physical, psychological or socially harmful behaviours that can inflict harm, stress and injury. Children can feel discouraged from telling someone they trust about bullying for fear of things escalating or from worry or hopelessness that it won’t stop.

The difficulty of knowing if a child is being bullied, is one that worries parents, teachers and carers. But one or more changes in a childs mood, physical appearance and behaviours could be an indicator that a child in your care is being bulled.

Recognising the warning signs early is a step closer to taking action to stop the bullying, but be aware that not all children show these signs. These signs could also be a sign of other issues in a young persons life.

We have put together 10 indicators you need to look out for:

1. A change in sleeping patterns and frequent nightmares.

2. Not wanting to attend school – making up excuses as to why they don’t want to go.

3. Returning home from school with ripped clothing or broken belongings.

4. Unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches on their body.

5. Frequent headaches, sore stomach pains and possible fabrication of an illness.

6. Irregular eating patterns, skipping meals, loss of appetite or returning from school hungrier than usual.

7. Standards of schoolwork becoming poorer.

8. Nervous and afraid to use their mobile phones/internet.

9. Unexplained avoidance of regular social activities with usual friendship groups.

10. Showing unusual aggression, being disruptive or unreasonable.


If you are worried because you are witnessing these behaviours – it’s a sign you should take action. Talk to the child, open and honestly, this will help you identify a problem early. Bullying is very rarely a complete secret.

Young people might not use the word bullying when telling you about things that made them sad, upset or worried at school. If a child in your care confides in you or you suspect something is wrong at school, having a gentle well-planned conversation can help.

For confidential parenting family support you can contact Family Lives on their website or on 0808 800 2222.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

Signposting to Supports

GOV.UK – Making a complaint about bullying

NSPCC – Bullying and Cyberbullying

Internet Matters – Cyberbullying

Anti Bullying Alliance – Advice for Parents

Bullying UK (Family Lives) – Adivce for Parents

DFE – Advice for Parents and Carers on Cyberbullyig

Kidscape – Adcive for Parents and Carers

Don’t forget! Check out the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ section of your Safer Schools App for more help & information.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

Anti Bullying Week 2019

Posted: November 5, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

To help you prepare for Anti Bullying week we have put together some helpful resources to use within the classroom and assemblies.

– Customisable Primary & Secondary ‘Anti Bullying’ Powerpoint slides – covering the different types of bullying, what young people can do to stop bullying and who they can talk to.

– A free printable resource pack including ‘Be a Cyberhero’, ‘Smiley Sharer’ and ‘Trusted Adult’ – covering cyber bullying, being kind online and identifying a trusted adult.

Anti Bullying Powerpoint slides:

Printable Resource Packs:

 

 

How to Respond to Sexting in Schools – Dawn Hewitson

Posted: October 22, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

With over 30 years’ experience in education, Dawn Hewitson is a Senior Lecturer and Designated Safeguarding Lead for Computer Science and Secondary Education at Edge Hill University. She sat down with us to discuss sexting policy in education and her Ph.D. candidacy that addresses the problem in schools.  

 

 

 

Dawn, Sexting is a relatively new phenomenon how would you define it?

For me, it’s electronic communications between people that are of a sexual nature. That could include explicit sexual content and the ‘come to bed’ type eye shots that girls tend to take, or gestures people make by putting things into their mouth ‘simulating’ [oral sex]- for me that’s sexting as well. I don’t think it’s explicitly sexual, it could be an image or a text that’s suggestive of a sexual act.

It can be anything, but the definitions are so loose and mean different things to different people. Adults know it as sending suggestive images to one another, and children understand it as a bit of both.

‘Sexting’ is one of the most talked about challenges in schools at the moment, how difficult do you think it is for a child to talk to someone about it?

I think there are far too many scare tactics at the moment, there are far too many children who think if they engage in this activity it’s the end of the world and they are doomed.

I think teachers need to be supportive and understand or empathise with how the child must be feeling.

If a child talks to you about something that’s troubling them, they’re actually empowering you with massive trust. The way in which you respond to that can have really serious and ongoing consequences in that child’s life, and the way they communicate with people.

What advice would you give to teachers on how to talk to children and young people about the topic?

So, the first thing to do is not to be alarmed by whatever it is they are telling you.

The second thing is to have a bit of compassion and think about how sad or unhappy this person must be and then to calmly suggest courses of action you can take.

I think you should ask them questions; ascertain how they ended up in this circumstance, how they got to taking pictures of themselves and how these pictures ended up in someone else’s hands.

But I think it’s equally important to let them know that it’s not the end of the road; perhaps there ought to be changes in the way that teachers respond to this.

You have to ascertain why they have been involved and which course of action you will take. But in all instances, you need to make sure that there is somebody else that they can talk to who is maybe outside of the teaching framework and that relationship.

They should be able to talk about how they’re feeling and given some coping strategies.

Why should safeguarding professionals approach the issue with sensitivity?

I don’t think there’s enough of an emphasis on what you’re actually dealing with here. Often it can be someone’s first encounter with sexual activity.

It can have long lasting effects on how they view their own bodies, their relationship with themselves, which I think is the most important relationship. It’s about how you relate to the rest of the world. It will always impact on future relationships if it’s handled incorrectly, and I think teachers need to recognise that’s what they’re dealing with.

There is also very limited awareness of outcome 21 from what I’ve seen, I’ve not yet encountered one single school that is aware of outcome 21. Consent is an area of the curriculum that is just not done justice, there seems to be a lack of awareness of ownership of images. There’s a lot of work to do and we haven’t even started yet.

Dawn’s Top Tips for speaking to a young person on the topic:

• Do not be alarmed
• Respond calmly and with compassion
• Ask open questions
• Reassure them that action can be taken
• Start to plan some coping strategies

If you would like to learn more about how to tackle this issue in schools, come along to our Youth Produced Imagery Seminar Series. 

The next events in our Youth Produced Imagery seminar series, take place in Wakefield, Preston and Birmingham in November. The seminar will include a workshop to explore how educational professionals can manage and respond to the challenges presented by image-based abuse.

I Want a Free Place

 

5 Ways to Take Back Control of Your Screen Time

Posted: October 16, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

How we use screens has changed how we live our lives.

They make our education, work and social activities easier, quicker and slicker.

For a while now, we’ve seen debates about screen time pass in and out of the news cycle. One thing is for certain- too much screen time can impact our health.

You’ve probably even thought about your own screen time, as well as that of children in your care. But is it really that bad?

The truth is, no one is really certain. But some psychologists have expressed concern on the issue citing worrying impacts on brain matter and structure.

What are the effects of screen time?

Multiple studies have shown shrinkage in the parts of our brain that are important for executive functions including: planning, processing, organising, completing tasks and impulse control.

But others say that experts are never going to be able to provide a definitive answer to the question of how much is too much, when it comes to screen time.

There are many factors involved and context is everything. For young people there are positive aspects of screen time, like creating artwork, playing or watching problem solving and educational games/videos. These can all be stimulating for the brain and greatly beneficial for young people and their development.

The Facts on Screen time According to Ofcom (2019):

• 63% of 12-15-year-olds think they achieve ‘a good balance between screen time and doing other things’
• 71% of older children are allowed to take their phones to bed
• 5-15-year olds now spend 20mins more online than they do in front of a TV.
• 35% of Young people are finding it more difficult to moderate their screen time, an increase from 27% last year.

Like all things in life, moderation is key when it comes to screen time. To help you get it right, we’ve put together 5 ways you can support yourself and young people in your care to take back control of their screen time.

1. Take regular breaks

Spending too much time looking at screens can make our eyes dry and strained. It helps if we take a break every 20mins. This only has to be for less than a minute, to let our eyes rest. You should advise young people in your care to take regular breaks and allow their eyes to refocus.

Top Tip: Our eyes use lots of muscles when we focus on things close up. You can rest your eyes by using a simple trick. For 20 seconds focus on something further away-your eyes will thank you.

2. Keep active during the day

Spending long periods using screens in class and at home usually means young people are sitting down. We all know how easy it is for young people to binge watch on Youtube or spend a long time chatting to their friends.

Being active during the day can offset the time they spend sitting down, and (strangely) help them (and you) feel more energetic.

The NHS says young people should be active (meaning slightly out of breath) for at least 60mins each day. This means their heart rate should be raised- as it would be if they were walking quickly.

Top Tip: If they enjoy listening to music while they’re walking, challenge them to quicken up the pace; but make sure they pay attention to their surroundings.

3. Know your limits

You have probably noticed that handy screen time function on some of your personal devices. This is an attempt to make us more ‘screen aware’.

Games can be addictive, and apps are ‘gamified’ to encourage young people to keep using them- but having healthy boundaries and regularly thinking and reflecting on your screen time together has substantial benefits for everyone’s health.

The trick here is deciding when they can use screens, rather than allowing them to get lost in messages and ‘losing time’ to games, apps and social media. It’s important that all responsibilities are taken care of before screen time e.g. homework, chores and family activities.

Top Tip: A simple trick is to agree some time with young people before they use a screen. An example would be telling a young person they can play games for 1hr- some people even set timers to keep track (using a screen, probably) 

4. Screen free times/places

It can help to have designated times and places where phones are out of bounds, this can be during journeys after school, when relatives or family friends are visiting and of course family mealtimes.

Family mealtimes are important for checking in with young people in your care, to help them explore issues, reflect on positive aspects of their day and shared what they have learned at school. But when screens invade dinner time, no one is fully present. Encourage young people in your care to be present and interact socially away from screens. Of course, if a call or text is important, exceptions can be made.

Top Tip: Creating these shared rules with young people will increase their willingness to abide by and respect them

5. Be a role model

Someone once said “Children are great imitators. So, give them something great to imitate” they probably weren’t talking about screen time, but it still applies.

Young people in your care take their lead from us and the examples we set. Remember to be present when you’re talking to children in your care. We can all fall into bad habits of checking our phones during family time but keeping our own screen time in check gives us credibility and bargaining power when setting firm boundaries.

Top Tip: Be mindful of the quieter times where 1-2-1 conversations are possible, these can be the most vital moments in fostering a supportive relationship with young people in your care. 

 

As technology continues to evolve and touch every part of our lives, the age-old advice of ‘everything in moderation’ stands up to how we should think about screen time.

 

Support

  • If you need support as a parent or carer you can contact family lives.
  • If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person you should contact 999 immediately.

 

The Safer Schools partnership is an initiative delivered by Ineqe Safeguarding group together with Zurich Municipal.
To check if you’re a Safer School click here.

 

 

3 Things You Need to Know About ‘Gaming Disorder’

Posted: October 10, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

There is nothing wrong with gaming in moderation, but if you are concerned that a young person in your care has problematic behaviours toward gaming, it’s best to seek support. So far there have been several treatment options identified including therapeutic counselling, medication and/or self-help groups. Healthy habits can support young people to maintain positive gaming behaviours.

WHAT IS GAMING DISORDER?

The NHS has launched a new service that will tackle behaviours associated with ‘gaming disorders’. The new ‘Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders’ will support young people who are ‘seriously addicted’ to gaming.

This year, gaming disorder was designated as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They explain it as “pattern of gaming behaviours characterised by impaired control of gaming” and giving priority to gaming over daily activities despite negative consequences.

According to WHO, ‘gaming disorder’ involves patterns of behaviour so severe that they result in a ‘significant impairment’ in education, social and family activities for at least 12 months.

The WHO have offered reassurance that ‘gaming disorder’ will only affect a small proportion of those who play games. Setting positive boundaries around game playing can support young people to develop healthy gaming habits.

Dr. Linda Papadopoulos a Psychologist and Internet Matters Ambassador gives the following advice:

“Put parameters down when it comes to how long they’re allowed to play- don’t allow them to have tech in their rooms after lights out and ensure that they have alternative activities whether they be sports or clubs that make them engage with their peers in the real world- if you are still concerned then seek the help of a professional counsellor.”

It’s important to note that young people with existing mental health needs incl. depression, anxiety, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be more susceptible to ‘gaming disorder’.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR?

Symptoms of ‘gaming disorder’ can be:

● Choosing to play games rather than socialise or do activities they previously enjoyed

Lying about how the amount of time spent on gaming

Inability to concentrate or focus on learning or participating in school or sports

● Feeling irritable, impatient and restless without access to games

● Excessive desire to be alone to play games

● Constant tiredness, low mood and an inability to sleep

Headaches, eye strain, neck pain and repetitive strain injury caused by gaming

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

You may want to speak to your GP in the first instance or a parent’s advice line.

Supports

For confidential parenting and family support you can contact Family Lives on their website or on 0808 800 2222.

If you are a professional with concerns about a young person’s gaming habits you can contact the NSPCC Confidential Child Protection Helpline via email or on 0808 800 5000.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

Talking to Young People About Suicide

Posted: October 10, 2019 | admin No Comments

If a young person in your care has an active suicide plan you should take them to your nearest A&E for immediate support.

 

According to Time to Change around 20% of people will experience suicidal feelings in their lifetime.

There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide and understanding them are vital if we are to adequately respond to the issue. Both suicide and self-harm behaviours are increasing among young people.

But it’s worth noting that suicide is not a selfish act, instead, it is a desperate response to cope with extreme emotional distress and pain.

It’s important to remember that there’s a big difference between individuals having a definitive action plan to end their life because they feel they can’t cope versus dealing with the typical challenges life throws at them.

Sometimes young people may appear to overstate their feelings, it’s always important to listen and not dismiss these feelings, seemingly small problems still warrant your attention.

In any case, when responding to a disclosure of suicidal ideation from a young person, it’s helpful to keep your emotions to yourself and process them afterwards.

Many young people will fear intense emotional reactions from caregivers in their life— this may be a barrier to them revealing difficult feelings in the future.

Facts on Suicide from Samaritans:

● Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK
●  In 2018, 759 young people took their own lives in the UK and ROI
●  75% of these deaths are among young males but the suicide rate for young females is at its highest rate on record.
●  Suicide related internet use was found in 26% of deaths for those under 20

‘High intensity’ feelings can leave someone feeling exhausted, particularly if they are recurring however, these feelings are usually transient.

Unfortunately, this is hardly obvious to young people in this mind frame, who may be struggling to think clearly. It can be helpful to highlight that there are supports, other more positive ways to cope and techniques to help them feel better; even though it doesn’t feel or look that way right now.

How to Lead a Conversation on Suicide

LISTEN

Acknowledge the issue, the emotions behind it and how hard the young person is finding things. Resist the temptation to say ‘everything will be fine’- this might make you feel better, but it undermines and can dismiss the feelings of young people in your care. In these moments, focusing on their feelings and thoughts is vital.

For example, avoid saying:

“Sometimes we feel sad, it’s no big deal. It’s all in your head don’t worry”

 

Instead, say:

“I can hear that you’re finding things so hard right now that it’s making you want to end your life. I want you to know you can always come talk to me, I’m here to support you with these difficult feelings”

 

EXPLAIN

The importance of being honest about the issue of suicide cannot be understated. If the issue is hidden and not talked about it can leave children and young people in our care feeling invisible, unheard and immensely vulnerable. Hiding the truth from young people can impact the trust they feel in your relationship. Talking openly about the subject will not make it more likely to happen, it will mean that you are properly able to support the young person and diffuse the crisis.

 

Tips for explaining suicide to young people:

● It’s best to avoid methods, and detailed information on ‘how’ someone might end their life

● It’s better to focus on the pain and suffering, and what a young person could do if they felt very sad or low

● Focus on the fact that someone has ‘died’- ‘by suicide’ because they weren’t thinking clearly due to mental illness.

 

Younger children will respond well to clear language such as:

“This person killed themselves and their body has stopped working. This was because they were very sad and in a lot of pain, they didn’t want to suffer anymore”.

 

ACT

Don’t wait to start the conversation. If a suicide has happened in a young person’s community, or if a celebrity attempts or dies by suicide, you should use this as an opportunity to talk to them about the issue. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation, it’s likely that young people will have lots of thoughts and feelings, which should be explored carefully.

Using open-ended questions will help you explore what they know about the story and allow you to fill in the blanks without revealing too much information that may distress them. Keeping your responses short and simple allows young people in your care to direct the conversation with their questions.

Critically, you should casually explore what a young person would do if they felt isolated, sad and like they wanted to hurt themselves. Check that they know who they could speak to and where they could seek help.

Keep in mind that when a traumatic event is breaking news, the information can come quickly through social media streams. Advising young people to take a break from the internet for a few hours can help them feel less overwhelmed.

Using opportunities such as these as ‘teachable moments’ can greatly empower young people to realise and access the supports around them.

 

Talking Tips:

“I saw on the news that someone died in our area, it’s really sad.”

“What did you hear about what happened to [person]?”

“How do you feel about what happened, is there anything I can do to support you?”

“If you felt sad and low, who could you talk to?”

“I really care about you, and I’m always here for you it means a lot to me that we can be honest with each other about everything.”

 

Signposting to Supports 

 

Support for Young People:

Childline

Young Minds (Information and Advice) 

Young Minds (Crisis Messenger)

 

Support for Parents:  

Family Lives

Young Minds (Parents Helpline)
 

Support for Teachers:

NSPCC Child Protection Helpline

Mental Health Foundation (Mental Health Guide for Teachers)