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A new tool has been created to help support young people online

To help increase awareness amongst professionals of the risk factors associated with the online world to young people, a new HeadStart Online Resilience Tool has been developed as part of the Digital work-stream of the HeadStart Kernow programme, delivered by Cornwall Council and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The Online Resilience Tool is a practical way to help professionals assess young people’s online behaviour and make a decision about whether that behaviour represents risk of harm. The tool has been produced by the Headstart Kernow programme with young people and in partnership with Bournemouth University and the Professionals Online Safety Helpline at South West Grid for Learning.

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Behaviours are organised by age group and divided into ‘Not harmful’, ‘Potentially harmful’ and ‘Harmful’. Advice is given on where a behaviour represents real concern, or whether the professional needs a conversation with the young person about their behaviour. There is no way of completely eradicating risk in the online world, in the same way as we cannot completely eradicate it in the offline world, however we can reduce risk through interventions and supporting our young people.

The purpose of the tool is to improve professionals’ knowledge of the particular challenges of the online world for young people and to enable them to guide age-appropriate online behaviour. It is the result of two years’ worth of research by Headstart Kernow and partners.

The research showed a real disconnect between how young people viewed certain online behaviours compared to parents and professionals. While young people viewed some behaviours as ‘common’ and ‘normal’, parents and school staff considered them cause for concern.

Young people told us that they want support with critical thinking so that they can address their concerns with anything they come across online that may be problematic.

They were critical of the prohibitive nature of e-safety messages and said that technology pervades all areas of their lives. They wanted support to be able to think critically about what they see and do online. When asked young people about what adults can do to help them they told us ‘listen and don’t judge.

“It’s not a case of making them more anxious for ‘telling them off’ but listening to what happened and understanding how we might help them.”

The Online Resilience Tool and supporting materials can be accessed from

Professor Andy Phippen said: “We are proud that the tool has been developed from the bottom up with involvement from young people. They have guided out thinking and helped us shape a tool with real practical value for professionals who work with young people”.

Started in 2016, HeadStart is a five-year, £58.7 million National Lottery funded programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. HeadStart aims to explore and test new

ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 16 and prevent serious mental health issues from developing. To do this, six local authority-led HeadStart partnerships are working with local young people, schools, families, charities, community and public services to design and try out new interventions that will make a difference to young people’s mental health, wellbeing and resilience. The HeadStart partnerships are in the following

Locations in England: Blackpool; Cornwall; Hull; Kent; Newham; Wolverhampton.

Portfolio Holder for Children and Well Being, Councillor Sally Hawken, added: “It’s great to see this come to life, as the project was created following feedback from young people.  I hope this encourages and empowers teachers, school staff and health professionals to have those difficult conversations about the risks young people face online.”