childonlineThe NSPCC and the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command have launched a new online course to help professionals understand how children use the internet and digital technology, and how to keep them safe.

Previous research conducted by the NSPCC and British Association of Social Workers (BASW) revealed that 74% of social workers said they needed more support with child protection cases involving online abuse. In the same survey half of the social workers responding reported that online abuse was a feature in 25% of their sexual abuse cases.

Jonathan Baggaley, head of education at the National Crime Agency's CEOP command said: "When better than Safer Internet Day to launch such a valuable tool to help in our continued drive to ensure our children are safe online.

"Online safety is not a job for just one organisation; with modern technology and the internet now a part of our everyday lives, it is up to every single one of us to ensure we stay safe in the online world. Keeping Children Safe Online will help ensure professionals have the knowledge and skills they need to protect the young people they work with."

The NSPCC's findings have been reinforced by recent research carried out for the Marie Collins Foundation in which 70% of the professionals working with children surveyed said they had not received training in online risk assessment and 96.5% would value this.

Claire Lilley, NSPCC’s head of child safety online said: “Training to protect children from online abuse is absolutely crucial for professionals working in areas such as social work, education, health and law.

“The internet and smartphones are now an integral part of young people's everyday life. While this technology offers them huge benefits both socially and educationally it also brings dangers that professionals need to have a clear understanding of. These include cyberbullying, grooming on social networks and being coerced into sharing explicit images.

“This e-learning course will help professionals understand how children and young people use digital technology and the risks that they face. Importantly it will also give practical advice on what professionals and the organisations they work for can do to help keep children safe online.”

The training course, which has been piloted since September 2013, has received positive feedback - 98 per cent of people who completed it said they would recommend it. Keeping Children Safe Online costs £20 and takes around three hours to complete. For more information go to www.nspcc.org.uk/kcso