I am delighted to have been asked to write a guest blog for RM Education. My name is Laura and I manage the Professionals Online Safety Helpline, part of the UK Safer Internet Centre. The POSH helpline is a free service for professionals, and volunteers working with children and young people. It provides signposting, advice, and mediation, to resolve e-safety issues staff face about themselves, such as protecting professional identity and online harassment, or problems affecting young people, for example cyber-bullying or sexting issues.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, during normal working hours, and we aim to respond to calls within 3 hours where possible. The main benefit of using our helpline is our exceptional contacts with industry partners, which enables us to report issues to a real person, and also for them to keep us up to date with policy and reporting changes. We currently have contacts within Facebook, Twitter, Omegle, Tumblr, Ask.FM, Moshi Monsters, Pinterest, Apple, Snapchat, Vodafone and more!

A typical day for us might include reporting a fake Facebook account, set up to cause distress to a Teacher, or having abusive comments about a school removed from Twitter. We deal with many cyber-bullying incidents amongst young people, and also issues of privacy, for example hacked accounts or how to use pupils photographs safely online. Our first step is always to provide the reporter with the tools to manage the issue themselves, this may be by sending a link to a reporting tool, or with details of an organisation who deal with these issues.  If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily we can in most cases escalate to our contacts to have the problem reviewed. There are sadly times when the issue is not a straightforward breach of a sites community guidelines, and it may be that we can provide advice about how to manage the issue “offline”.

You can contact us for help via email at helpline@saferinternet.org.uk, or telephone 0844 3814772.

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