The SafeSkills resource is designed to build young people's skills and resilience to protect them against the risks associated with grooming for sexual and criminal exploitation. More than 200 schools have attended training to use the resource and teachers have provided us with extensive feedback about the impacts they are seeing.
A key aim of the programme is to encourage young people to talk openly about their experiences particularly in an online context. This enables teachers to better identify the risks young people are taking at to put safeguarding measures in place where appropriate. The feedback from teachers is that we are being successful in this aim:-
In all of the schools involved in an evaluation study, teachers reported that children were more open about their existing risk taking behaviour, especially the risks they take on line. For example one teacher reported:
“All staff felt that the children may not have previously disclosed the information they shared within the ‘SafeSkills’ sessions. For example, many of the children spoke openly about their online habits and worryingly, 29 of the 57 (51%) of the children in Y5 admitted to befriending an unknown person online (often through online gaming), with little or no understanding of the hidden agendas that these people may have”.
Maria Needham Pastoral Lead & Safeguarding Officer, Newton-le-Willows Primary School
There is evidence that this more open discussion of risk taking behaviour has led to some positive changes in this behaviour; particularly young people deleting ‘friends’ from their online profiles because they were unknown to them. During the sessions in which children practice questioning the motivations of others at St Matthews Primary School, children talked about getting online requests from people they didn’t know asking, “Invite me to the party” and one young person referred to a “fella who always tries to join our group”. After the SafeSkills ‘motivations and intentions’ sessions 20% of young people reported deleting people from their online profiles.