As the summer holidays whizz past us, on the helplines our focus is on the start of the autumn term. This summer we have been busy beavering away, creating our new online resource designed with university students in mind.
At SWGfL we operate three separate helplines:
- The Professionals Online Safety Helpline (also known as POSH) is a helpline dedicated to providing support for those working with children and young people in the UK with online safeguarding issues. You can find more information about their service here saferinternet.org.uk/helpline/professionals-online-safety-helpline
- The Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) supports all adult victims of intimate image abuse living in the UK, by providing essential advice and help with reporting of private sexual content shared without consent online. You can find more information about their service on their website revengepornhelpline.org.uk/
- Report Harmful Content is an online platform to help anyone over the age of 13 to report harmful content online. They provide a reporting function as well as lots of advice on their website. You can find more information about their service on their website reportharmfulcontent.com/
Each helpline has its own expertise, supporting different kinds of internet users. When we put our minds together, we’re a force to be reckoned with!
Online Safety for Universities
‘Online safety’ is a big theme in schools. It might not be perfect, but there are lots of resources for schools to choose from, ways to include it in curriculum and criteria for Ofsted to check. As young people leave school and move from 6th form or college into university, it feels there is an assumption that these are young adults who have online safety figured out. From our work on the helplines, and the cases we come across, we know that this isn’t the case. We see a need to continue having these conversations with university students, especially those first years who may be away from home for the first time and potentially more vulnerable to online harm.
In 2019, we launched our first collaborative resource for university students following University UK’s (UUK) report on tackling online abuse and a growing number of cases from students in this area. You can find this resource here
The New GOSH Resource
This year, we launch our new resource focusing on ‘Good Online Sexual Health’ (or GOSH for short), created for a number of different reasons. Through research, we identified a real need for more information and education around sexual health online. We have created this resource as a response.
GOSH is an online sexual health resource aiming to provide university students with a better understanding of their own online sexual health. Unlike other sexual health resources, GOSH focuses on the online world and aims to give university students and other young adults a better understanding of online sexual health and how to have a healthy relationship with their own online sexual health. We know practicing good sexual health is encouraged throughout a young person’s life both on and off campus and we want to replicate this in the online sphere.
The resource is set to launch on 2nd September 2021 and will be available in the form of an Instagram page, with clear advice and posts which can be shared across multiple platforms. We feel it will be more accessible this way than traditional printed resources. The content has been created in way that is easily shareable on multiple platforms.
What Does GOSH Include?
The main resource is in the form of a short video guide with 5 main sections. These are as follows;
1. Awareness of the risks and consequences of certain online behaviours. As well as awareness of how to overcome and minimise these risks, optimising safety and wellbeing of users.
2. Check-ups – checking for viruses, scams and other things that may compromise safety online and how to set these up.
3. Trusting your gut in situations where someone may not necessarily feel comfortable. This section is more about understanding your own boundaries, other people’s boundaries and what to do if you do not feel comfortable in a situation.
4. Honesty with yourself and your online sexual partners or those you interact with online. This section focuses on having open and honest conversations with your online sexual partners about a range of issues or subjects. For example, storing your partner’s content when exchanging nudes and what would happen if you parted ways.
5. Consent – like offline sex, consent is always important. This section explores the definition of consent legally and more generally.
We really hope this resource will help open up conversation on how to practice ‘Good online Sexual Health’, all be it in a new but increasingly important subject.