Sexting or locker room banter #safeguarding #esafety

Here’s a question that I never thought I would have from a parent – was it the left testicle or right testicle in the photo?

Even putting it in context doesn’t help but I will try.  Boy students were sending stupid photos to each other on snapchat. Photos with them sticking their tongue out or cramming themselves in small spaces, one showing his chest breathing oddly and then it went too far and one sent a picture of his testicles. What they forgot was that there were some girls in the group and her parents saw the picture. They in turn contacted the school, who investigated and then informed the parents of those involved. Awkward enough anyway, especially as one child had screen shot the photos and then showed it to you, the stunned teacher, who quickly documented who had sent the picture but really didn’t want to spend to long looking at the photo especially as a pupil was watching your every move. ( Note to self, need to book a training course to help with that)

As a school this raised a few questions. Obviously we got everyone to delete it from any possible storage / device but before you do that, how do you document it. My safeguarding training tells me, if it’s not written down/ evidenced, it didn’t happen, yet I don’t want a child emailing it to me. This was a couple of years ago and I along with the esafety officer decided that recording  the info through written statements, was enough. I have since bought a memory stick for phones to help with this situation which I plug straight into my printer and then put the image in my safeguarding filing cabinet.  However as I had deleted the image I therefore couldn’t show the parent. I am not sure I would have shown the photo even if I did have it but anyway she questioned if it was actually his testicles, asking me to describe them. You know then the conversation has gone way beyond the call of duty. I pointed out to the parent that he had already admitted it’s his body parts and wouldn’t it be worrying if it wasn’t, where has he got this image from?

Education to pupils and parents is so important. Pupils will make silly mistakes and do things that seem to have you asking, why? A lot. Pupils need to be aware that what might seem funny to them, isn’t always funny to others. And everything you put on line can be seen by way more people than you think. Imagine your Mum and a teacher from school discussing the photo and how embarrassing that must be. And what was the purpose of this picture, did the student realise that it wasn’t appropriate? When speaking to the rest of the group, most didn’t see the picture as a issue. Just something stupid, that didn’t mean anything. One student called it locker room banter!  As educators we need to consider this when discussing topics in #pshe.

Parents have to have open conversation about their children’s digital footprint just like you would about their physical behaviour, when they leave the house. We check that they are warm, that they have a lift sorted, that they will say thank you and be polite and that they won’t be poorly behaved. BUt do we mention anything about their one line behaviour or safety?

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

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