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Online Safety

Volume 605: debated on Monday 25 January 2016

Schools, internet providers and parents all have a role to play in keeping children safe online. All schools must have regard to the statutory guidance, “Keeping children safe in education”, when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote children’s welfare. Every school is required by law to have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and e-safety has been a statutory requirement in the computing curriculum since September 2014.

I am very grateful to the Minister for that response because this is key. The Education Committee recently heard from a number of children in care, who raised the issue of the internet and safety on the internet, particularly in relation to self-harm. We heard that when someone types “self-harm” into Tumblr, they get a message of support and are directed to particular websites that will help them. Will the Minister encourage other social media sites to do the same?

My hon. and learned Friend is right to push on this issue. We encourage, and will of course continue to encourage, social media, search engines and blogging sites to help to signpost vulnerable users, including children in care, to accessible sources of information and support through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety board and elsewhere. Most schools filter content and monitor children’s internet usage to protect them from harmful websites, but not all of them do so. That is why we are consulting on requiring all schools to use filters and monitoring systems, so that we can be confident that all children are kept safe online as well as off.