The role of a school Safeguarding Lead is weighted with responsibilities. Not only is it the first point of contact for staff and students who need to discuss a safeguarding concern, but that person must also fulfil many other crucial roles: for example, be knowledgeable across the entire spectrum of safeguarding topics; be able to offer appropriate advice and support; be a mediator between students, staff and parents; keep detailed and accurate records of safeguarding issues or child protection concerns; have the skills to identify signs of abuse or self-harm… the list goes on and on.

So a little bit of help from technology can only be a good thing when it comes to being privy to what students are talking about – or not talking about, as the case may be. Let’s have a look at how the Keyboard and Phrase Monitoring feature of NetSupport DNA can help staff gather intelligence on what students are searching for [[READ_MORE]] – and why it is so much more constructive than simply blocking all of their online activity, leaving them to search some other way where nobody is aware of their concerns.

Some students are loathe to share their worries with other people for fear of being told off, or bullied, or worse. So if technology can give us a red flag to highlight that there are issues troubling a particular student, then safeguarding leads have the opportunity to approach them in the right way and offer the appropriate support.

For instance, if a female student is being bullied about her weight, that’s probably not something she’s going to feel comfortable talking about. And, depending on the intensity of the bullying, it may appear that the only way to stop the torment is to actually lose weight. So she starts to eat less. She starts to hide mealtime food at home. But what if it’s not happening quickly enough to stop the taunts and jibes? It’s not just at school either – they’re calling her fat and spreading misery on social media, not to mention taunting her by text until late into the night.

She decides to find out what she can do to get her weight loss moving. Yes, she knows about making herself throw up – and laxatives too. If only she could get her hands on some of the diet pills she’s heard people talking about. But you can only get the best ones on the internet. Some of them can help you lose a stone in a week! She doesn’t know the names of them, so she searches online at school one lunchtime…

Meanwhile, her form tutor had mentioned to the school safeguarding lead that this particular student been coming to school lately looking really tired and drawn, plus she hadn’t been herself for a good few weeks. They’d already talked to her and asked whether everything was ok, but she’d put on a game face and assured them she was fine. The search for the diet pills threw a new light onto the situation, and, once the staff were alerted, the pieces started to drop into place. Now it was possible to offer some real support for the weight issue – and tackle the bullying as well. Of course, if the technology had also highlighted that other students had been looking at diet pills on the internet as well, it would give staff the perfect opportunity to head off any wider issues by providing informative assemblies or facilitating class discussions around the topic.

Without the tip-off provided by NetSupport DNA, staff would have been left guessing as to what was going on for so much longer. And what would have happened if the student had got hold of those diet pills?

Learn more about NetSupport DNA’s safeguarding module here