In 2011, I completed work for the Training and Development Agency (TDA) looking at how vulnerable young people being taught outside of the main stream education sector, (in Pupil Referral Units or Special schools) were using social media. The study also looked at what training needs and support those working with these students needed in terms of their own professional development. You can read the report 'Munch, Poke, Ping' report here
In October 2011, the Nominet Trust awarded me a grant to continue this project and extend the development of intensive work with groups of vulnerable young people in a further 3 Pupil Referral Units. This work has started and a dedicated 'Munch Poke Ping' area of this website will be updated shortly.
The work has involved:
- Working directly with students in exploring issues of identity, conflict, coping and relationships and through drama and team building produce short films about their experience. See the first one we produced here
- Work with staff and explore the challenges and opportunities for using social media with their students and following interviews produce a set of 4 films from practitioners looking at their case study.
- Work with both staff and students from these institutions in developing a special Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) tool- kit which can help other PRUs staff engage directly with their students in drawing up their own organisation's AUP.
- Bring all practitioners together at the end of the year through the hosting of a special national conference looking at social media with vulnerable young people. This conference will be youth-directed and will involve all the groups of young people and staff involved in the project to show their films and help policy makers and staff review the issues of social media for this group. This conference will take place in November 2012.
Members of the advisory board for the 'Munch, Poke, Ping' ongoing work.
LtoR: Stephen, Katie Bacon, (Online Youth Outreach) Neil Finbow (PRUS.org) Claire Moore (TDA) Julian Parmiter (Film maker) and Dr Emma Bond (Senior Lecturer Course Leader MA Childhood and Youth Studies University Campus Suffolk)
In addition to this ongoing research I have been developing training material to deliver at conferences and with groups of practitioners who work directly with vulnerable young people. This training incldues 'hands-on' training of using social media. In a sense this is because I believe you "Can't teach swimming without getting in the pool!" Of course the social media environment is changing all the time and I am grateful to be able to work with associates including Katie Bacon from ONLINE YOUTH OUTREACH
It is also vital to help practitioners know how the internet and mobile technology amplifies offline vulnerablity. In the following presentation I outline 10 ways in which those who are vulnerable offline can be more vulnerable online. These include:
- Unmediated Contact
- Social Location
- Exclusion from vanity tools and the new 'norm' sharing features
- Blackmailing “gifting” & grooming by peers
- Earlier adoption of services not used my others
- Being ‘nudged’ into gangs and criminal behaviour
- Unable to balance negative digital footprints
- Lower resilience because of lack of sleep and personal support
- Special Needs including attachment and learning difficulties
- Low levels of language & literacy
A slide from the presentation outlining the challenges of looking at this issue.
In November 2011 I was asked to be a key note speaker at the Plymouth Safeguarding Conference which looked specifically at Safeguarding children who may be particularly vulnerable.
"We asked SC-D to be a keynote speaker at our Plymouth Children's Safeguarding conference and his presentation absolutely "hit the spot" and offered a very accessible understanding of the key online issues for vulnerable YP and challenged us to re- assess how we tackle on-line behaviours, rather than being stuck on technological safeguards. Many of the 200 lead social work practitioners and managers responsible for assessing risks to vulnerable children commented to me afterwards just how impactful and inspiring his session had been. We look forward to continuing to work with Stephen and would recommend his services to others."
Tony Staunton, e-safety Lead officer, Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board