Safe Network live chat

We invited parents to chat about keeping their child safe concerns with Safe Network, Safe Activities for everyone, during a one hour live chat. Here is the transcript of that live chat session.

Amy: My daughter is 9 and is badgering me to let her walk to and from school with her friend. Friend's mum seems ok with this but I'm not sure. The route doesn't involve any busy roads and there is a crossing man right by the school, but something is holding me back from saying yes. What do you think? Are there any legal guidelines on this?

Safe Network: Hi Amy, I would suggest that you prepare your daughter by going through the route with her and assessing her understanding of road safety. However, as your daughter is nine years of age, I would suggest you wait until she is a little older as children up to the age of nine can not judge the speed of traffic as effectively at this age. It would also depend on your daughter and her friend’s level of maturity and the distance to her school, when deciding if she is ready. As a parent I would trust your instinct.

Amy: Thanks for that - I will trust my instinct and not go ahead with this until I'm really sure. You have confirmed what I was thinking deep down. Thanks again.

Julie: I have a ten year old son. I have to work during the holidays and have managed to find him a holiday club. Obviously I want to ensure that anyone caring for my son has had the appropriate checks made. Does everyone involved in the club have to have these checks, even if they are just helping out, and am I within my rights to ask to see copies of the CRB certificates?

Safe Network: Hi Julie, It would be a good idea to visit the club yourself to check out a few things. On the issue of CRB checks, all the staff should have had them done, but you are not entitled to see copies of them. The only people who might not have had them done (and where they are not able to get checks) are people helping out on a one off basis such as parents. Other things you might want to ask the club about are whether they have a child protection policy and procedure, whether they have the correct ratios of adults to children (for a 10 year old it should be at least one adult for every 8 children), whether they have a designated person to deal with child protection issues and whether you are happy with the health and safety arrangements that are in place there. Good luck - hope your child enjoys the club!

Julie: Thank you, you've brought up some very valuable points that I hadn't even considered. I will do a bit more research and visit the clubs before I make a decision. Many thanks for your advice. I've just thought of something else. With regard to me not being able to see the CRB checks, would this not make it extremely easy for people to say they have had checks carried out when they haven't?

Safe Network: You're right, Julie. It would be possible for the club to say that they have had checks carried out when this is not the case. The reason why parents are not allowed to see them is really about the right to privacy of the people who are the subject of the checks. For example, there could be information on there that has nothing to do with child protection but that the person who is the subject of the check would want to keep private. In order to reassure yourself that the club is doing what it says it is doing about checks, you might want to see some evidence of this in writing e.g. reference to it in their policy, or in information that they send to parents, or even in a personal letter to yourself. At least this way, you are showing the club that you are really serious about the issue and at least you then have some come back if anything were to come to light to show that they do not do the checks. At the end of the day, you can't be absolutely sure but you need to feel you have a relationship with the club that enables you to trust them. Hope this helps.

Emily: I would like some advice about my 16 year old daughter. She is friends with a girl who I don't like at all. She is older and lives with her dad who lets her do anything she likes. She is allowed to get home at all hours and they have parties with the type of people I wouldn't like my daughter to associate with. I have also heard that the dad takes drugs and gets very drunk. He has also told my daughter that he fancies her. I am really worried. My daughter won't listen to me and is very rude and aggressive towards me now.

Safe Network: Hi Emily, it must be really worrying for you to be in this situation. As a parent of a sixteen year old it’s very difficult to influence peer pressure. If you can try and incorporate some quality time away from the home with your daughter this may help to bridge the communication between you and your daughter. If she is not prepared to discuss and acknowledge your concerns, is there any body else within your family or circle of friends/teacher who may have some influence on your daughter's behaviour. You may want to also consider speaking to the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000.

Emily: Thank you for that. What should I do about the dad? Will the NSPCC help me to do something about him?

Safe Network: The NSPCC would help advice you of what cause of action you should take as they have trained practitioners to advice on such matters. If you ever feel that your daughter is at risk of harm you should ring the police.

Jade: My 11 yr old son was recently chatting to a friend on a social networking site. He's known this person for some time and has been chatting a lot recently. However, yesterday he asked my son if he lived near a park where they could meet. Fortunately my son terminated the chat and told me what happened but it's left me completely freaked out. Help.

SafeNetwork: Hi Jade, I'm not surprised that you feel freaked out about this. Well done to your son for stopping the chat and for letting you know - the good relationship with you has been vital in keeping him safe here. You might just want to check out what information he might have shared with this person and advise him in future not to get into chats with people that he doesn't know face to face. As a precaution, if you have not already done so, you might want to move the PC to a part of the house where other members of the family are around. It is also important that you report this incident to CEOP (Child Exploitation on Line Protection service). Their website address is www.ceop.police.uk. If you have any trouble getting through, then ring your local police directly. Make sure when you contact them that you have all the information about this person to hand. Good luck with this.