Each year, East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) organises a Youth in East Northamptonshire (YEN) conference to bring together secondary students from across schools across the district.
This year’s event took place in late November was themed around online protective behaviours and delivered in partnership with Service Six and their TARGET (Targeting and Reducing Grooming, Exploitation and Trading of people online) project team.
Online protective behaviours primarily focuses on increasing awareness of the potential risks that confront children and young people every time they enter the online world.
The ever changing landscape of how children and young people use the internet requires a greater understanding of the dangers to themselves and other users from online abuse, child sexual exploitation, online grooming and indecent images.
As such, the conference focussed on these areas and how important it is for young people and children to have a good understanding of the difference between communicating with someone they know offline and someone they’ve only ever met online.
Chairman of East Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Dudley Hughes, who attended and opened the conference, said:
“The YEN conference is now a staple part of the East Northamptonshire Council year, and I am very proud to have been part of this year’s event.
“The area of online security is growing in importance, and this conference really highlighted this - it was great to see so many young people from local schools take part and learn about staying safe online in this increasingly digital world.”
The 44 young people that attended the conference took part in activities around social media apps and profiles, importance of consent, the risks and harm caused by indecent images, as well as general online safety advice. Students also had the chance to talk to a variety of organisations about the subject, including the schools PCSO and the Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation (RISE) team from Northamptonshire Police.
The day was positively received by pupils, with pupils finding the day very informative and enjoying learning about the risks of social media.
The Service Six TARGET project was initially set up as a direct response of the rising number of cases being referred to the organisation that involved an online component and this has continued to grow.
Information about services for young people can be found at www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/YEN and for more information about the Service Six TARGET project, visit www.servicesix.co.uk/target.html