Policy and Guidelines
This policy document relates to social networking, internet, email and use of mobile phones.
We recognise that for many young people, technology is their preferred means of communication and it can also be an extremely effective tool within youth work. However while it brings opportunities there are also significant risk and it is important that guidelines are followed.
Leaders communicating with young people or vulnerable adults via the internet, email, social networking or mobile phone must be DBS checked in accordance with the Methodist Church safeguarding guidelines.
It is recommended that:
- If a worker expects to communicate with young people via email, messenger, social networking sites or texting, written permission from the child’s parents should be given.
- One-to-one communication between a worker and a young person should normally be avoided. Communication should always be in a page or group context, using an approved ‘Work’ account that a supervisor or approved third party can access and review.
- Clear and unambiguous language should be used in all communications. Avoid abbreviations and symbols that could be mis-interpreted.
- Do not use any comment or picture of a young person without written parental permission.
- Employed workers should be supplied with a mobile phone dedicated for work purposes. This allows for the phone to be switched off outside working hours, and for usage to be accountable.
- The work phone number should be the only number that young people are given; a worker’s personal number should remain private.
- Any texts received that raise concerns should be saved and passed on to a supervisor, safeguarding officer or approved third party within the organisation. Conversations raising concerns should be discussed as soon as possible.
Email and Messenger services, including Whatsapp etc:
- Be aware of who has access to computers, or other devices, used for communication between workers and young people.
- There should be a ‘curfew’ on instant messenger communication and mobile phone texting and this should only take place during reasonable ‘working hours’ and not late into the night etc.
- Log and save all conversations and regularly review these with your supervisor before they are deleted. Make sure that young people know that a supervisor has access to the conversations.
- Video or Voice messenger should be done in public so that other people are aware of what you are doing and to whom you are speaking.
Facebook & Social Networking Sites:
- Best practice is that it is not appropriate to use a personal Facebook account and profile for work with young people, so you should create a professional account to manage your communications with young people
- To create a professional or ‘work’ account and profile, enter your work email in the sign up box, adding ‘Work’ or another suitable term after your last name to distinguish your professional profile from your personal (i.e. Sue Brice Work)
- Your supervisor/Named Person should be aware of the account name and password so that they can at any time log onto the account to monitor the communications. Young people should be made aware that information is shared in this way.
- You should ensure your organisation/church name is entered onto the profile you create. Also make sure you use work contact details and web address.
- You should use a photo of you in an official/work setting.
- Adding interests makes your profile more interesting, but only share information appropriate to the young people you will be working with. Likes or endorsements of political causes might not be appropriate.
- You should consider entering a ‘expectations statement’ under ‘about’ in your profile such as:
I am a youth worker with a keen interest in social media which I use to share about the groups and events we run through Yatton Methodist Church. I also post lots of links that I think young people who come to our groups would find interesting. I only log-in to Facebook a few times a week so if you need to contact someone from Yatton Methodist Church urgently then please call 0XXXXXXXX or email theYW@xxxxxxxx.org.uk.
- Any communication or content that raises concerns should be saved or printed, shared and discussed with your supervisor/named person.
- Workers should only accept friend requests for this profile from young people known to them, that they have first met offline.
- Communication should normally be in the public domain wherever possible using group mailings or public wall posts.
- Workers with personal social networking accounts should customise their privacy settings in order to maintain the boundaries between their personal and professional lives.