- It is often said that trust is earned rather than given. However, on the internet this is not always true. Communicating with someone online for a long time and feeling that you know more about them does not make them more trustworthy; someone you only know online may be untruthful about who they are.
- Someone seeking to coerce, exploit or harm a child online will typically attempt to do so by first building a positive relationship with that child, in order to gain their trust. Once trust has been established, that adult can more easily manipulate a child into risky or harmful behaviour.
- Online platforms like social media give users control over what they post and share online. Therefore anything posted, even by close friends, should not be automatically considered trustworthy. Children may see others online who are very selective about what they share which may create an impression that those people are always happy or have a ‘perfect’ life.
- Once you have shared a photo or video with someone else online, it becomes very easy for them to share it with others. Many devices allow you to take screenshots, which makes it easy for someone to capture messages or conversations and share them with others.
- Remind your students that not everyone is who they say they are online. Other online users may not be truthful about their identity and children should not consider an online contact to be trustworthy just because they have shared a lot of information about themselves.
- Explain to your students that it is unsafe to agree to video chat with someone they only know online. You don’t know what you might see in the video chat or how the other person (or people) in the video chat might behave.
- Discuss with your students the importance of trust in friendships – what would they share with close friends that they wouldn’t share with others? Explain that, even though close friends are more trusted, it is important to think about what you share with them. Remind your students about the importance of respect in friendships, and not sharing photos, videos or other content about others without their permission.
- Remind your students that if any contact from someone else online makes them feel worried or uncomfortable, they should always tell you or another trusted adult as soon as possible. You can also advise your students to report the user and to block them to prevent further contact.
- If a student discloses anything that gives you cause for concern about their welfare or safety (or that of other students) then always follow the child protection procedures in your school.