How can you keep children safe if you don’t know what is going on?
Reporting routes for people who have issues allow safeguarding intelligence to get to the right people who can help. The more reporting routes an organisation has, the more informed it is and the more able to support its’ community.
SWGfL Whisper is not intended to be a sole solution and can often be most effective when offered with a range of reporting routes. Schools can encourage pupils to report issues in confidence using a variety of methods:
- Bully Boxes, which are emptied daily and acted upon
- Confidential web-based reporting systems like Whisper
- Buddies who are stationed at a known location every day
- Think books
- Peer mentors
- Confidential phone numbers
- Adult counsellors or drop-in facilities to talk with home-school workers/mentors
What we do know is that reporting routes are most valuable when:
- Users have confidence that their concerns will be treated promptly and seriously; that action will be taken which will not make their situation worse.
- They can access reporting routes easily.
- They know who will deal with their concerns and have trust, both in them and the systems which the school uses.
- They are aware that malicious reporting, relating to pupils or staff, will be taken seriously and could incur a disciplinary sanction.
Anonymous Reporting? How useful?
It may seem strange that somebody seeking help reports anonymously. How can you help someone if you don’t know who they are?
Anonymous reporting can operate in a number of ways to build confidence within a community. It provides safe and secure ways for those who would not normally speak out to report issues on behalf of their peers. It also gives a voice to the wider dynamic or roles people play in online issues.
We often tell our children to “Stand Up to Bullying” but often fail to provide the routes or the strategies to do so effectively and safely. Whisper is an easy to access and confidential route for them to do so.
During this current crisis, SWGfL is offering this unique and innovative service free for as long as schools and children’s settings are closed.
How to get the most out of SWGfL Whisper
Announce that you are running the service before you launch
Run a build-up and set expectations of how you see the service working for your community. Let people know it’s a helpline for any difficulties that they should value and not misuse. Like a 999 call, if people abuse it, it reduces its ability to help someone who could be their friend. Make sanctions for misuse clear.
Have appropriate staff to respond to any alerts
Your community will only use this route if they trust that the response they receive is going to be helpful and valuable. The staff who review messages should have a safeguarding background and know how to identify, respond and escalate issues. In particular, the anonymous messaging tool in Whisper should be used sensitively / carefully by someone who has had safeguarding training to respond to disclosures.
Make the terms of service clear
It’s going to be nigh impossible to run this service 24/7 so set expectations for your community about response times. Be pragmatic, especially when considering evening, weekends and holidays. If a situation is urgent and you cannot respond immediately, Whisper provided contact advice for a variety of organisations who run 24/7 helplines e.g. Childline
Drip feed it into your safeguarding culture
No one is going to use it if they are not aware of it or what to expect. Drop it into regular communications with your school community; use the letter to parents template and the poster template to advertise its presence
Use it to inform your safeguarding strategy
Reviewing the types of calls you get through Whisper can help you understand behavioural trends and issues that you may not have been aware of. This can help shape your reactive and preventative strategies when your school finally re-opens.
Think beyond just safeguarding
This tool could be an effective route for people to make suggestions for improvements or whistleblowing for staff. You can have a number of forms/buttons setup within the tool that have completely different functions. Remember, people have the opportunity to leave their contact details too.
Build your safeguarding intelligence with SWGfL Whisper.
What is Anonymous Reporting?
In contrast to the promises of anonymity, a reporting process often equates to varying levels of transparency, accountability and communication
Why Should You Use an Anonymous Reporting Tool?
How will an anonymous reporting tool increase awareness of issues and improve safeguarding