The online world presents huge opportunities for finding purpose, connection, and community. But it also presents significant risks; it is a fast-moving space and the risks of online grooming and exposure to violence and trauma are rapidly growing. Where disturbing behaviour was once limited to a physical audience, harmful content is now rapidly shared online, resulting in retaliation and feeding violence offline.
At Catch22, we build resilience in communities, helping individuals to thrive now and in the future. We work with partners – local authorities, corporates, and government – to provide early intervention, targeted and specialist support services to those in crisis, leaving care, missing from home, those at risk of violence or exploitation, and those with substance misuse or mental health problems
- 79% of 12-15 year old internet users have had at last one potentially harmful experience online in the past 12 months. (Ofcom)
- There were 47,500 offences with a knife in 2019, an 82% increase on 2014.
- 37% of respondents to Catch22’s National Online Harms Consultation said they have seen harm occur to them or a friend because of harm online.
- Only 27% of young respondents feel safe online all the time.
- 38% of frontline practitioners do not feel sufficiently trained to deal with online behaviour.
Catch22 is actively seeking partners to help us with:
- Research, to map the links between online and offline behaviour
- A coalition of tech companies, working together to address safety, regulation, intelligence and protection of freedom of speech in a safe online world
- Online interventions using nudge techniques and behavioural insights to direct at-risk groups towards behaviour change and pro-social opportunities
- Large-scale pro-social programmes, supporting young people into meaningful opportunities, career pathways and creative output
All our services must address the complex interactions of the online and offline world. We are building a safer online world through prevention and intervention, and by creating safe ways for young people to communicate, express themselves, and positively connect with their communities.
To have a real impact on the levels of risk of violence or exploitation young people face, we must tackle the cause; disenfranchised young people operating in a radically changing world, often without positive alternatives. We provide employability and training services, specifically focused on digital skills for the next generation.
Through Catch22’s one-to-one support work, practitioner training and education, all our work is backed by research and our existing services and frontline experience. For example, some of the risks and harms influenced and exacerbated by online behaviour include:
- Victim services
- Children at risk of exploitation services
- Gang exit support
- Alternative provision schools
- Violence reduction units
- Catch22 National Online Harms Consultation 2020: A national survey on online harms and how it is resulting in harms offline, which received input from young people, youth workers, teachers, tech companies, and Police and Crime Commissioners nationwide.
- Social media as a catalyst and trigger for youth violence: By highlighting how social media can glamorise or incite acts of violence, the report provides a springboard for how we can prevent young people harming, and being harmed by, other young people.
- Safer schools – keeping gang culture outside school gates: Exploring the extent to which and how pupil gang involvement raises challenges for schools and to identify best practice for schools in responding.
Current research from Catch22 is focused on the effectiveness social media platforms’ and technology companies’ efforts to minimise online harms.
Case study: The Social Switch Project
By switching the narrative on how social media’s relationship to youth violence is understood, tackled and solved, Catch22 and Redthread are collaborating on a public heath approach to addressing youth violence. The Social Switch Project pilot was funded by Google.org to educate frontline practitioners on how to talk about behaviour online and to upskill young at-risk people to enter digital careers. The success of the programme has been recognised by London’s Violence Reduction Unit and is now funded by the Mayor of London.
- Social media management training for young people: The training has already supported 40 young people, setting them up for creative, sustainable digital careers. It has helped them gain placements and employment at Google.
- Training for frontline professionals: To be an effective professional who works with young people, be it a social worker, police officer, teacher or youth worker, we must address all parts of a young person’s life, including their digital world. This free course has given 522 frontline practitioners the confidence to have these conversations, where they can talk to young people about what’s going on online and open their eyes to digital opportunities. Following completion, 92% had increased their understanding of social media and how young people engage with it, and 94% had increased their understanding of how to support young people to make valuable contributions online.
- Grassroots project funding: We have also delivered £75,000 in grants to grassroots projects across London, empowering young people to create and expand projects which enable them to directly improve their community
“London’s Violence Reduction Unit is focused on addressing the complex causes which lie behind young people becoming involved with, or being victims of violent crime. That’s why we are investing in The Social Switch Project, which supports young people in building their creative and digital skills and which will continue to help many more young Londoners reach their true potential”
– Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit
What does a safe online world look like?
- Policies are fit for purpose and legally compliant
- Users understand and actively accept policies
- Enforcement of policies is swift and results in behaviour change
- Users cease to commit illegal and/or harmful acts online
- Young people are supported to access genuine pro-social opportunities
- Users access the benefits of online connectivity
Questions digital leaders should be asking:
- Are our policies fit for purpose?
- Do users know and understand what the policies say?
- Does this knowledge positively influence behaviour?
- Do sanctions for misbehaviour have the right effect?