Where did it all begin

Childnet was founded in 1995 in response to the rapid growth of the internet. It became clear at this time that while the internet had tremendous potential as an educational and entertainment medium for children around the world, significant effort was needed to showcase the positive, transforming ways in which the new technologies could help young people as well as helping them to stay safe online.

From the beginning, Childnet’s vision has been ambitious - a charity committed to working with all sectors both in policy and in the development of projects, and showcasing how children can really benefit from the new media. This vision remains at the heart of Childnet’s work today.

This section will showcase some of the incredible projects and programmes that Childnet have run over the years, from The Childnet Awards which showcased children and young people’s creativity online to the founding of the INHOPE Forum of European hotline providers, that went on to become the INHOPE Association.

Childnet has, over the years, spoken directly to hundreds of thousands of children, parents and teachers and developed a number of award-winning educational resources designed to help young people and parents assess and manage the risks that they may encounter online. Some of these will feature below, or may be found in our resource library.

Since January 2011, in addition to our other work, Childnet has been one of the partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre. Childnet forms the Awareness Centre within this, focusing on raising awareness amongst parents, carers, teachers, children and young people in staying safe online, achieving this in a number of ways, including through working with stakeholders, developing resources and organising Safer Internet Day in the UK.

Some highlights since 1995:

Education and schools outreach

We have been working with children and young people from the beginning, and since we started our schools outreach work in 2001, we have visited thousands of schools and worked directly with hundreds of thousands of children and young people, and ten of thousands of parents and carers and school staff. The first schools programme started with primary school age, but now the team work with all ages, from 3 to 18 year-olds. We have also trained others to deliver sessions to children and parents, both in the UK and internationally.

Know IT All

With support from Becta, the TDA, UKCCIS, as well as Microsoft and the VGT, Childnet produced the ground-breaking and award-winning Know IT All suite of educational resources. The forerunners, Getting to Know IT All, saw industry volunteers trained and equipped to deliver internet safety sessions in schools. Know IT All for Secondary reached every school n the country. 2 million copies of Know IT All for Parents were requested and distributed to parents via schools, and this also formed part of both the Computers for Pupils programme and the Home Access project. KIA for Primary won the Medea awardand has been translated into several languages. 

UK Government’s Guidance for schools

Preventing and responding to cyberbullying

Childnet were commissioned by the UK Government to produce guidance to help schools deal with the issue of cyberbullying. Launched in 2007, it formed part of the UK Government’s Safe to Learn Guidance for schools on bullying. In addition to the main guidance we were also able, with Government support, to make available printed summary leaflets and the Let’s Fight It Together video resource. These resources have been adapted and translated and are used in other countries.

The Childnet Awards and Academy

The Cable & Wireless Childnet Awards was an inspirational competition which rewarded those that had developed websites that were both innovative and beneficial to young people. The Awards developed into the  Academy, a competition open to young people only. These two programmes saw a glittering array of web ideas and sites from all over the world. With Ceremonies held in Sydney, Washington, Paris, Jamaica and London, young people were able to get together with other shortlisted winners and look at how to further develop their web ideas.

The INHOPE Forum

The INHOPE Forum project was the forerunner of the INHOPE Association. Under an EC-funded project, Childnet brought together the hotline providers in Europe with the aim of encouraging cooperation and reducing the level of child abuse images on the internet. Over time, this Forum developed into the INHOPE Association, with members from right across the world.  

Jenny’s Story

Working closely with a police constabulary, Childnet produced a ground-breaking educational video resource, telling the true story of what happened to one girl who got into difficulty online. Launched by a Home Office Minister, and independently evaluated, the film carries a clear message to secondary school children that it is never too late to tell someone and that there are people who can help.

Home Office Task Force for child protection on the Internet

Childnet were instrumental in the introduction of the new offence of ‘Grooming’ which was introduced in the UK 2003 Sexual Offences Act. Childnet also helped draft good practice guidance for industry covering ‘Chat, Messenger and Web-based services’, ‘Moderation’, ‘Search’, ‘Social Networking’, and helped with the updates to these published by UKCCIS.

Youth IGF Project

The Youth IGF Project was created by Childnet to include the voice of children and young people at the Internet Governance Forum. It was launched 2009 to respond to constructive criticisms made of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that there had been very limited involvement of young people at the IGF. In 2012, the youth team delivered the first ever youth-chaired workshop at the Internet Governance Forum, and they were invited to present the conclusions in the Main Session.

The Victim Identification Project 

This project responded to a recommendation made at an international governmental conference in Vienna in 1999 - a recommendation that research should be undertaken to try and discover whether it would be possible to identify the children portrayed in the online images, and discover to what extent these children had received support from qualified child welfare experts in coming to terms with their abuse. Childnet worked together with the COPINE project at University College Cork and Radda Barnen, Save the Children Sweden under an EC Daphne supported project to carry out this research, disseminating the findings directly to relevant law enforcement and child welfare stakeholders.  

NetAware research

In 1999, Childnet ran a research project carried out in 6 EU countries for the European Commission, to assess how best to communicate messages about safe use of the internet to parents and carers, teachers and children across Europe. The recommendations from this research helped to shape the EC’s Action Plan on the Safe Use of the Internet. 

Mobile phone conference Japan

In Tokyo, in 2003, Childnet and the Internet Association Japan brought together stakeholders from across the world to look ahead at the emerging mobile internet and potential positives and negative impacts for children.

NetDetectives

Developed from a winning Childnet Award entry, NetDetectives was a real time online role play activity for schools, where the young people would engage online with experts as they tried to understand and solve clues and questions around the subject of internet safety. 

Chatdanger website

Childnet were contacted by the father of a girl who had been groomed by an adult through an internet chatroom. The father wanted to tell the story to make sure other parents knew about the potential risks and how to keep safe online, so Childnet worked with the family to develop and launch the Chatdanger website. This was developed further with European Commission support to address other technologies popular with children, such as IM and mobiles.

Childnet Challenge

This project, supported by the Vodafone Foundation in 2003-4 brought together young people from different communities to collaborate using communications technology positively to further develop their mutual understanding. Young people from Belfast and Dublin worked together in teams completing tasks and used mobile phones to record and report their progress.

International work

The internet is international, and Childnet has worked with organisations from many countries. The list is a long one, but Childnet have worked in or with organisations from a wide range of places including Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the USA, to name a few.