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Managing online safety incidents

Online safety policies and protection

Keeping children and young people safe online cannot be done in isolation, and it is recommended that a code of conduct is developed. This outlines appropriate practices and standards of behaviour when engaging with young people. The development of a child protection policy also helps outline the standards for your school and details how to recognise and respond to threats or risks to children.

Safeguarding Children have both free and low cost courses and resources that can contribute to keeping children safe online, including the development of a code of conduct.

Responding to online safety incidents

If you are made aware of an online safety situation involving ākonga, you may need to intervene (e.g. nude images being shared, or pornography being viewed on a school laptop).

The Ministry of Education has a helpful guide which includes real-world scenarios and explores how schools and kura can respond.

Netsafe have developed a guide which can be used when planning for, dealing with, or reviewing online safety incidents, including the sharing of intimate content, child sexual exploitation material and online grooming.

Expectations when using digital devices

Understanding students’ knowledge and confidence when using digital technology means that schools, including kura and educators, can be confident they are addressing issues that are relevant for young people.

Below are some resources you can use to explore young people’s knowledge about the online environment and set expectations and culture around the use of digital technologies and how these are to be used in school.

Safeguarding Children have developed a code of conduct resource guide to ensure people in positions of trust know what is acceptable and unacceptable and how organisations deal with those situations.

Making school networks secure

Online safety includes making sure school and kura teachers, leaders and administrators are also using the internet securely. That means keeping the networks secure and making sure that any data held within a school or kura is kept safe and private.

The Ministry of Education has an online security hub for school and kura IT leaders. It includes steps to take to make your school or kura more secure and what to do in the case of a cyber security incident.

Filters for inappropriate content

Install a web filter to protect and prevent ākonga from accessing harmful and inappropriate content on school devices. Network for Learning(external link) (N4L), the government-funded internet service provider, offers safety and security solutions to help keep your school, staff and ākonga safe online.

Supported by Netsafe and CERT NZ, N4L provides security solutions such as firewalls, website filtering and threat protection. More information about the different security solutions provided by N4L is available on their website:

This page also contains information about the Ministry of Education-funded email protection solution which is available to all schools and provides a high level of email security and added peace of mind.

Support for home educators

Children and young people who are home educated can be protected from online harms by using the Ministry of Education and Network for Learning’s Switch on Safety filter which is available for free on the N4L website:

Netsafe educator framework

The framework is a roadmap educators can use to develop a culture of online safety, digital citizenship and wellbeing across the learning environment. It does this by providing a framework so that leaders and kaiako can gauge current capability, identify areas for development, and track progress towards goals. The framework draws on ERO’s Wellbeing For Success Indicators, and the Education Council’s Leadership Capability Framework as a school-wide approach to help leaders and kaiako strategically map the ‘what’ and ‘how’, to deliver the ‘why’.

Responding to online harms

Students involved with online incidents at school may have experienced harm or they may be exhibiting harmful behaviours to themselves or others. Follow-up support is important to prevent further harms or online incidents occurring.

In The Know(external link) is a great resource to direct young people to who are struggling with online sexual issues (external link)including:

  • Worried about nudes and online sexual experiences.
  • Feeling pressure to watch porn or want to cut down porn usage.
  • Experiencing mental health or body image issues.
  • Feeling uncomfortable with something they’ve seen online.
  • Thinking about creating online sexual content.
  • Worried about watching aggressive online content.

Student online safety initiatives

Netsafe Youth Action Squad programme

The Netsafe Youth Action Squad (YAS) programme equips young people with the knowledge and skills about online safety initiatives. You can encourage your students to join the YAS and enable greater involvement in online safety initiatives in school.

Te Mana Whakaatu Classification Office Youth Advisory Panel

This is a diverse group of rangatahi between the ages of 16-19 who provide a youth voice on media in Aotearoa. You can encourage your students to join the panel and express their views and perspectives on issues to do with potential media harms that impact them.