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Online Harms: Public Consultation

Catch22 is seeking input from frontline services, young people, and developers of online platforms to establish how child exploitation and youth violence is impacted by online behaviour. 

15 May 2020

Thank you to everyone who contributed, input for this consultation closed on June 5th, 2020.

Today, we have launched a public consultation to gather insight from young internet users, youth services and tech platforms across the UK. This couldn’t be a more relevant time to hear what leaders in this arena are thinking, and whatever part you play in keeping young people safe online, we want to hear from you.

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Before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, knife crime and serious violence was on the rise: according to ONS data there were 47,500 offences with a knife in 2019, an 82% increase on 2014. Social media is a recognised catalyst for youth violence, and with most people confined to their homes and screens, this risk will be growing, with potential repercussions as lockdown is eased.  

Catch22 works with young people at risk of, or engaged in, serious youth violence, through the delivery of offender management, resettlement and gangs work in prisons and in the community. We deliver services assisting children at risk of exploitation, and work with both their families and the wider  community.  

The Catch22 Online Harms Consultation will gather insights from young social media users, tech platforms, youth services and experienced youth workers, to understand how violence and exploitation may be occurring as a result of online behaviour, and how services are, or are not, prepared to prevent and address such harm.  

Why Now?  

Catch22’s frontline practitioners are acutely aware of the growing risk of young people being confined at home without the same supervision they would usually encounter. Whether you’re a young person studying, a youth service adapting to remote delivery, or a technology platform rapidly upscaling your offer to reach those who need your tools, there’s never been a more pressing time to keep everyone safe online. 

Online harms regulation is set to be introduced in 2020 but, if it is introduced this yearthe rulings and guidelines of such legislation will only form one part of the solution to an ever-growing and complex issue 

Since 2019, has funded Catch22 and Redthread to deliver The Social Switch Project across Greater London. The project empowers frontline practitioners who work with young people (such as teachers, youth workers, police officers and social workers) to discuss the challenges and risks of social media. It also works to empower young people to channel their creativity and focus their digital skills on developing careers in the field, and to shape more positive behaviour online. 

There is an urgent need to bring services, expert researchers, and young people across the UK, and internationally, together; we all need to understand the full spectrum of harms, how risks are being addressed, and what preventative and educational routes work.   

How can we, working with students, young offenders, and children at risk of exploitation, continue to improve the way we minimise future harm if we don’t have a full grasp on how these harms occur and what work is already in place? 

We want to ensure that our future programmes, and the work of other organisations in this space, paves the way for youth services to have a thorough understanding and to develop targeted assistance to ensure young people thrive in both the online and offline world, and that professionals and government can bring best practice offline, online:

We want to hear from you are any of the following: 

  • Between 16 and 26 years old  
  • Work with young people  
  • Commission or influence services for young people  
  • Deliver digital products or technology services for young people

What we want 

  • A detailed understanding of how harms are occurring offline as a result of online behaviour  
  • What programmes and services currently exist in the UK to support young people at risk, and to educate both professionals and young people of the potential for harm  
  • A greater understanding of young peoples’ online activity  


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