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Get familiar with social media to help pupils stay safe online

School nurses must understand the potential risks if they are to help young people think critically while online, conference hears
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School nurses should familiarise themselves with social media to help educate pupils about staying safe online, the chief executive of a children's charity has urged.

Sangeet Bhullar, chief executive of Wise Kids, which promotes positive and safe internet use among children and young people, spoke at the RCN school nurses conference in London on 25 August.

Understand the risks

Dr Bhullar told the 130 school nurses who attended that they should be familiar with social media so they can understand potential risks.

Nurses should also make use of websites such as the UK Safer Internet Centre, which offers advice and resources on safe internet use for teachers and health professionals, she said.

But she stressed that banning children from using the internet and social media was not the answer.

‘Instead you need to encourage children to think critically,' Dr Bhullar said. ‘How can children develop

School nurses should familiarise themselves with social media to help educate pupils about staying safe online, the chief executive of a children's charity has urged.

Sangeet Bhullar, chief executive of Wise Kids, which promotes positive and safe internet use among children and young people, spoke at the RCN school nurses conference in London on 25 August.

Understand the risks

Dr Bhullar told the 130 school nurses who attended that they should be familiar with social media so they can understand potential risks.

Nurses should also make use of websites such as the UK Safer Internet Centre, which offers advice and resources on safe internet use for teachers and health professionals, she said.

But she stressed that banning children from using the internet and social media was not the answer.

‘Instead you need to encourage children to think critically,' Dr Bhullar said. ‘How can children develop the skills to negotiate the online world if you deny them access to it?’

Uncovering abuse

Also speaking at the conference was National Working Group Network nurse member Ray McMorrow, who has worked on 43 cases of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Derby and the north of England.

He said the role of the school nurse was vital in uncovering cases of abuse.

He said: ‘Only two of those 43 cases involved direct disclosure from the child to say they were being abused, and in both it was school nurses they chose to tell.

‘It can take 7 years for cases of CSE to be disclosed and in many of them health professionals could have asked the questions which would have revealed that abuse sooner.’

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