NSPCC — supporting families to ensure child safety during coronavirus lockdown

Parents Community
06 April 2020
Helen Westerman
Helen Westerman is joint acting Head of the Safeguarding in Communities team at the NSPCC and has been working at the charity for the past 13 years. She is also the Local Campaigns Manager in the North of England, running local and regional campaigns in partnership with health, social care, police, education and voluntary sector agencies which aim to safeguard children and young people. 
With many children now not going to school due to the coronavirus outbreak, parents and families across the country are facing new challenges regarding education and safeguarding that they have never faced before.

Despite these new demands, it has been heart-warming to see so many parents get their children involved in interactive and creative activities to help lift their spirits and keep them busy and entertained during these unsettling times. Such as organising virtual play dates for their children via apps like Skype and Zoom, and online P.E lessons to help keep their children active.

Rainbow pictures

Whilst out doing my daily exercise, I have seen many beautiful paintings and drawings of rainbows displayed in the front windows of houses, which has brought a smile to me and other passers-by. This has now become a global trend with some parents taking photographs of these drawings and posting them on social media platforms to share with friends and family members, and others.

This activity carries a positive message of hope during the coronavirus lockdown and it is something that should be enjoyed, however, I am keen to encourage parents not to include their child’s name or any other identifying information on these drawings, particularly if they are being shared online. Sharing this information could pose a risk as people that you don’t know may use this information to contact them online. Instead of this, your child could write a positive message or a hashtag encouraging people to stay at home and stay safe. 

Being safe online

This is a very challenging time for all of us and the internet has been a lifesaver for many parents over the past couple of weeks, but it is important to be aware of the risks children can face such as coming across inappropriate content and online grooming.

To make sure your child is safe online it is important to have regular conversations with them about what they’re doing on the web and reassure them that they can talk to you about any worries they may have. To get a greater understanding about the online world you can also visit Net Aware. This is a website we have designed in partnership with O2 where you can learn about the latest apps, sites and games your children are using as well as find out about technical and safeguarding tips. You can also sign up to get regular emails so you are kept up to date on all the latest social networks that are available.

If you want to go even further and know more about online safety for children, you can also take the NSPCC’s elearning course. This will help you to understand what children and young people do online, what risks they may come across and how to respond to these risks so you can feel confident in protecting children.

As well as this, with many children now using online conference platforms to undertake school lessons from home, you can also use this link to find out more about the safety aspects surrounding remote learning.