Pupils from a Nottingham school were today taking to the airwaves to spread the message about online safety.
The youngsters from Bluecoat Beechdale Academy came up with the slogan “once you’ve sent that, there’s no going back” as part of short radio advert warning children about grooming and sexual exploitation.
The 50-second clip was the winning entry in a competition open to schools across Nottinghamshire. It was recorded in the Smooth radio studio last week and is due to be broadcast on Capital FM today (Saturday 18 March 2017), to coincide with national Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.
It was run by Ucreate and was funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire and the Local Children’s Safeguarding Broads for Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils.
The aim of the competition was to raise awareness among Year 6 to Year 9 pupils of online sexual exploitation of children and internet safety.
The children from the winning school said the competition had inspired them to think more about online safety and spread the message among their peers.
Farhan Basharat, 12, said: “I learnt that you should always be safe and there are boundary lines. We all use social media quite a lot but there’s a line to it.
“I love to represent the school and I want to get the message out there and help other people having these experiences.”
Ben Lakey, 11, said he learnt that age restrictions are there for children’s safety when playing online games and using sites such as Facebook.
He added: “I was surprised when we won the competition and my mum and dad were happy we won.”
Lewis Aslett, 12, said the project had taught him to be careful to only talk to people he already knows and trusts online.
And Kaleem Nasser, 11, said he was excited about hearing their message aired on the radio. He said: “I’ve learnt a lot about grooming and internet safety and that sometimes people pretend they are a different age.”
Safeguarding lead for the school Mel Ennis said the subject of online safety was already being taught at Bluecoat Beechdale Academy and was a big issue for all schools. She added: “The project has been amazing because it has been produced by the pupils – and because it is done by pupils it means other pupils are going to take far more notice of it.”
Robin Vasey, Assistant Principal for Behaviour and Safeguarding at the school, said: “We were very proud to listen to the radio version of the message. It is very impressive.
“They have worked very hard on it and taken it seriously and they realise it is a serious issue. Sadly many of them have had friends or have themselves been involved in online issues so it is a subject close to our hearts.”
The competition was launched in May 2015 and a total of 32 schools registered to take part and 43 entries were received, with some schools submitting more than one entry.
A platform of learning resources were set up and children were tasked to create their own radio commercial designed to raise awareness of the topic.
The entries were initially shortlisted by Ucreate then further shortlisted by representatives of both Local Children’s Safeguarding Boards and Nottinghamshire Police.
The winning entry was selected by children and young people currently engaging in the NSPCC’s Protect and Respect programme – to ensure that young people directly affected by the issues raised had a say.
T/Detective Chief Inspector Pete Quinn, of Nottinghamshire Police Public Protection, Child Safeguarding, said: “As children and young people continue to live their lives to a greater extent online the requirement to raise awareness of internet safety and online child sexual exploitation has never been greater.
“Sadly, by the time matters are brought to the attention of the Police it is usually too late and a child has already suffered harm.
“The Ucreate project provided a unique opportunity to bring an interactive learning resource into the classroom which allowed children to learn about a really serious topic in a fun and creative way that was not delivered by a figure of authority. All of the entries were fantastic and really demonstrated how education is at the heart of keeping our children safe”.
Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping, who co-funded the project, said: “This is a good way of highlighting the dangers of the internet to children and teenagers at an early age. It’s so important that young people are aware of the potential dangers of what may appear to be an innocent internet chat – and we all need to pay attention to internet safety to protect ourselves and our families.
“Greater awareness means fewer victims and work will continue on this subject. But, in the meantime, I would like to congratulate everyone who took part in this project for a great piece of work. The standard of entries was very high so the winners should be very proud.”
Ucreate is a private enterprise that run projects and campaigns on behalf of industry and the public sector.
Mark Matthews, of Ucreate, said: “The standard of entries from schools across county and city was extremely high. The young people clearly showed their understanding of issues surrounding sexting and other aspects of staying safe online and were able to skilfully demonstrate their knowledge through writing and making their adverts. Our thanks go out to Smooth for facilitating the recording of the winning advert and to Capital for broadcasting it.”
Liz Tinsley, Service Manager at the NSPCC, said: “The NSPCC in Nottingham is delighted to have been involved in such an exciting initiative to raise awareness in schools about the on line sexual exploitation of children and internet safety.
“The entries were of a very high standard but the powerful message in the winning entry by Bluecoat Beechdale Academy was really understood by young people at risk of sexual exploitation who receive the NSPCC’s Protect and Respect Service. Well done to all of the Schools who took part but particularly Bluecoat Beechdale Academy.”
For more information on child sexual exploitation and who to contact if you have any concerns that a young person you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation visit http://www.stop-cse.org/
Who do I call if want to report a child at risk?
If you believe that a child is at immediate risk call the Police on 999 immediately.
If you feel the child is at risk but not in immediate need of protection, call the Police on 101.
To report suspected exploitation anonymously you can call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you make the decision to contact Children’s Social Care, and the child or young person lives in Nottingham city, please call 0115 876 4800.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to the Police or Social Care you can phone the Free NSPCC Confidential Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
You can also report it to Nottinghamshire Police by calling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.