Digital Safeguarding Policy
Last updated: August 2023
Oxford Community Action is committed to promoting the welfare of young people and vulnerable adults, and to safeguarding them from harm in all its forms. In today’s digital age, the internet and digital technologies are an integral part of our lives, and they present a range of risks and challenges to young people and vulnerable adults. This policy sets out our commitment to ensuring that the use of digital technologies by young people and vulnerable adults is safe, responsible and appropriate, and that our staff and volunteers understand and implement best practice in digital safeguarding.
This policy applies to all staff, volunteers, and third-party contractors who work with young people and vulnerable adults on behalf of Oxford Community Action, and who use digital technologies as part of their work.
Digital safeguarding means protecting everyone at Oxford Community Action from online harms like:
- Cyberstalking – Repeatedly using electronic communications to harass or frighten someone. For example, by sending threatening messages.
- Discrimination and abuse on the grounds of protected characteristics – It can be an offence to stir up hatred – ‘inciting hatred’ – on the grounds of any of the protected characteristics.
- Disinformation – Deliberate intent to spread wrong information.
- Hacking – Accessing or using computer systems or networks without authorisation, often by exploiting weaknesses in security.
- Harmful online challenges – Online challenges sometimes show people doing dangerous things.
- People share these posts on social media, encouraging others to do the same.
- Hoaxes – A lie designed to seem truthful.
- Impersonation – Where someone pretends to be someone else online. This is often by taking photos from social media to build a fake profile. This is sometimes known as ‘catfishing’.
- Misinformation – Where someone shares information they think is correct, but it isn’t.
- Online bullying – Offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting behaviour and abuse of power online. This can humiliate or denigrate people.
- Online harassment – Unwanted contact online intended to violate someone’s dignity. It could be hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive.
- Promotion of self-harm, suicide and eating disorders – Content encouraging these harmful behaviours on social media.
- Radicalisation – Radicalisation aims to inspire new recruits, embed extreme views and persuade vulnerable people to support a cause. This may be through a direct relationship, or through social media.
- Sexual exploitation and grooming online – Developing a relationship with a child with the intention of abusing them. Offenders use emotional and psychological tricks to build relationships. The abuse can take place online or offline.
- Sharing of illegal and inappropriate imagery – ‘Illegal’ means child sexual abuse imagery and imagery that incites violence, hate or terrorism. ‘Inappropriate’ could mean sharing pornography, or violent or hateful content.
- Oversharing personal information – This includes information that makes someone identifiable, like their names or phone number. It may also include identifying details based on someone’s protected characteristics.
Oxford Community Action is committed to the following principles of digital safeguarding:
- Empowerment – we will empower young people and vulnerable adults to understand and use digital technologies safely and responsibly, and to make informed choices about their online activity.
- Prevention – we will take steps to prevent harm to young people and vulnerable adults through the use of digital technologies, including by identifying and responding to risks and vulnerabilities.
- Protection – we will protect young people and vulnerable adults from harm through the use of digital technologies, including by ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place, and that access to personal data is restricted.
- Partnership – we will work in partnership with parents/carers, other professionals, and the wider community to ensure that young people and vulnerable adults are safe online.
- Responsibility – we will ensure that all staff and volunteers take responsibility for digital safeguarding, and that they are aware of and comply with this policy.
Oxford Community Action will implement the following procedures to ensure digital safeguarding:
- Risk assessments – we will carry out risk assessments to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with the use of digital technologies by young people and vulnerable adults, and we will take steps to mitigate these risks.
- Consent and parental/carer involvement – we will obtain appropriate consent from young people and vulnerable adults for their use of digital technologies, and we will involve parents/carers as appropriate.
- Training and support – we will provide appropriate training and support to staff and volunteers to enable them to implement best practice in digital safeguarding.
- Monitoring and reporting – we will monitor the use of digital technologies by young people and vulnerable adults, and we will respond appropriately to any concerns or incidents of harm.
- Confidentiality and data protection – we will ensure that all personal data is stored and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Reporting and escalation – we will have clear procedures in place for reporting and escalating concerns or incidents of harm associated with the use of digital technologies by young people and vulnerable adults, including referral to the appropriate authorities.
Oxford Community Action is committed to ensuring the digital safeguarding of young people and vulnerable adults, and to implementing best practice in this area. This policy sets out our commitment to digital safeguarding, and the procedures we will implement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those we work with. We will review and update this policy Annually to ensure that it remains current and effective.