Child on laptop at home

Why the DfE must act NOW to digitally safeguard students in the Covid-19 lockdown

There is a new emerging threat to child safety in these lockdown times.

Schools are closed and with many parents working from home, we’re witnessing a significant rise in the number of children not only using the internet but doing so unfiltered and without supervision. It’s a situation that’s not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals.

Europol, the European Police Agency, believe child abusers are taking full advantage and ”welcoming opportunities to engage with children” in online forums and boards.

This week the National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that at least 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children as paedophiles look to exploit the Coronavirus lockdown. Investigators say they have identified offenders discussing opportunities to abuse children during the crisis in chats online. And police are warning of a spike in abuse with schools closed and youngsters spending more time on the internet.

In a normal school day, children’s online activity is protected by the use of web filters. Web filters block the harmful content a child can access and are a statutory requirement for all UK schools and colleges. However, schools find it exceedingly difficult to impose filtering, monitoring software and other security protocols onto devices they don’t own and have no access to.

It’s an exponential problem we now face. But can anything be done?

Read the full article here.

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