Working together to Protect Children

  • techUK techUK
    Tuesday07Feb 2017

    Guest blog by Julian Ashworth, Director, Group Industry Policy, BT on Safer Internet Day 2017

The internet is a tremendous enabler, educator, entertainer and democratiser, and children embrace it more than others. But, to ensure that children can safely utilise the internet to realise their full potential it is vital that we work together as a technology industry with government and others, to help protect children and ensure that the online world provides a safe environment.

BT has long played an active role in trying to ensure that children can safely experience the many benefits of the internet e.g. working with other internet industry members to create the IWF, first ISP to launch a deterrent “splash page” in place of mere “error 404” block page, and providing free device and network level Parental Controls to all of our broadband and mobile customers.

However, technology alone cannot ensure the protection of children online. Raising awareness of the need to protect children online and providing digital skills to children, parents, carers and teachers on how to do so is vital so that they become digital resilient.

So, we have worked with other ISPs, charities, schools, and young people to develop and launch education and awareness programmes. One such key programme is our joint project with Unicef UK called The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters, a schools focused programme. It aims to empower children to use the internet positively while staying safe and to equip parents and teachers with the tools to keep children safe online. The programme consists of a series of interactive workshops delivered by BT volunteers, in schools to children, parents and teachers. So far, BT volunteers have run over 440 workshops attended by over 12,400 teachers, parents and children. 11 workshops are taking place on Safer Internet Day, with a further 10 during that week. Here is a link to a video shot at one of the workshops. 

BT is also a founding member of Internet Matters, the online portal which aims to help parents and carers learn about, talk about and deal with the issues of online child safety. Furthermore, we have an innovative partnership with the The Marie Collins Foundation called Click: Path to Protection” which is a training programme for front-line child protection professionals to help children and their families who have suffered online sexual abuse & exploitation. We also have a long term ambition through our tech literacy programme to help build a culture of tech literacy to empower school children to navigate the new digital world and help them grow up to become active creators of technology, not passive consumers.

Additionally, BT continuously works closely with a number of key organisations and the government to advise on online child safety policies and initiatives. In fact, it will be announced today that BT has joined the Alliance to Better Protect Minors Online which is a coalition of leading digital players and NGOs whose aim is to take coordinated action to tackle the risks of harmful content, conduct and contact for minors across Europe.

At BT, our mission is to use the power of communications to make a better world. But online safety is broad and constantly changing – too big for BT or indeed any organisation to address alone. We need to continue to work together to make the internet safer for children.

BT is extremely please along with Childnet is hosting the Safer Internet Day again this year at BT Centre Auditorium on 7 February. It would be great if you’re able to make it.

Julian Ashworth

BT, Director, Group Industry Policy


This guest blog was published during Safer Internet Day 2017. More information is available on techUK's Child Online Safety activities. 

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