Everton has got behind a campaign to help stop young people in the North West becoming victims of online hate, bullying and other internet dangers.
On Tuesday, the Blues joined millions of others in the UK and globally to mark Safer Internet Day 2016 and help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
The day of positive action comes as a new online study of 13 to 18-year-olds conducted by ResearchBods in 2015 revealed that four out of five (83 per cent) young people in the North West of England have witnessed online hate at or about someone based on their race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity. More worryingly, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of 13 to 18s in the North West reported to have been the target of online hate themselves in the last year for belonging to a certain group.
Working in partnership with the UK Safer Internet Centre and Sharon Girling OBE, founder member of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), Everton has been working for the past two years to reach out to young people connected with the Club and make them aware of the dangers of digital technology, in particular social media.
Over the course of this work, the Club has identified numerous cases of online bullying and young people on Merseyside being targeted by sexual predators and felt it vital to get behind the campaign.
Adam Green, Everton’s Head of Safeguarding, said: “We have been working with our young Academy players and teams from Everton in the Community to deliver the key messages on safer internet use. We have used creative techniques to get alongside the children to empower them to be safer online and it has been staggering to see first-hand the extent of the risks.
“As an example, in one small group of young teenage players, a one-hour training session resulted in four of them being targeted by serious child-protection threats which we were able to support them with to remove the threat. There is no doubt that the young people across the Club are now much more aware of how they can be safer online. The challenge now is to keep ahead of the game as the threats keep evolving.”
On Safer Internet Day the Blues’ Safeguarding Team will be delivering a series of workshops at Goodison Park to 260 Merseyside school children and local young people, staff and parents connected to the Everton in the Community, Everton Free School and the Academy.
The sessions will offer participants the opportunity to learn about positive use of digital media and explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.
Everton joined a raft of high-profile supporters across the UK including the BBC, BT, Facebook, Google, Vodafone, Twitter, Microsoft, NSPCC, the UK Government and other Premier League clubs who are all joining forces to deliver a range of inspiring activities to promote Safer Internet Day 2016.
Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “Safer Internet Day is a time to celebrate the great work that everyone across the UK is doing to encourage young people to use the internet safely and positively. For Safer Internet Day 2016 we want to inspire a kind, respectful and inclusive internet by empowering young people – and all internet users – to play their part to create a better internet.
“It is fantastic to see Everton Football Club getting involved in the campaign, alongside hundreds of organisations who have pledged their support for the day, including schools, charities, public and private sector and a host of celebrities and vloggers. It is this collaboration that makes Safer Internet Day such a far-reaching campaign, and helps us to have such a positive impact for children and families across the UK.”
For more information about the activities taking place to celebrate Safer Internet Day, visit saferinternet.org.uk.