Posted: 19 December 2019

Working with high street stores to keep children safe online

Christmas is just around the corner and young people across the country will abandon their school routines for a couple of weeks.

During this break, children and young people will spend even more time online, chatting with their friends, playing games and browsing their favourite sites. That's why it's especially important to be educated in online safety.

Following on from an event in Wales with Dyfed Powys Police Neighbourhood Policing Team, our prevention programme teamed up with Currys PC World and Bradford Cyber Team from West Yorkshire Police to raise awareness and keep young people safe online. 

How did the project come about?

Through our work, we were seeing the grooming and exploitation of young people online and offline interlinking. Then, as part of a wider education programme around the risks of online exploitaiton, we developed the idea of disseminating safety messages at the point of sale. 

PC World are the largest high street retailer of electronic goods in the UK so we approached stores and pitched the idea of a pop-up stall. The Prevention Team then designed and produced a variety of resources, including a 'Z card', for staff to wear in their lanyards. 

What did the project involve?

Working with PC World staff, we encouraged parents, carers, grandparents, aunties, uncles and whoever else to come and talk to us and learn more about online safety. 

Not only did we have some really informative conversations with parents and carers, we also spoke to staff about their role in spreading online safety messages. We hope that staff will take this forward and be mindful of their role in safeguarding children and young people.

Our resources outline ways in which children and young people can be exploited online and offer practical tips on how to keep them safe. For example, if someone is buying a computer game, we encourage them to ask themselves if the content is appropriate for a child, and does the game have online access? By acknowledging the dangers early, we can take important steps in preventing exploitation.

What were the hopes of the project?

We hope that people we spoke to in store will be more conscious of digital safeguarding and take proactive steps to help safeguard children online. From engaging with staff in store and management at PC World, we also believe we have raised awareness of their responsibility to disseminate safeguarding messages.

We'd like to see other electronic retailers to help spread safeguarding messages at the point of sale, and are keen to support those who do. We plan to continue our outreach with PC World In the New Year.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PREVENTION PROGRAMME

By Evie Stannard
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