Essex & Suffolk Water Donates 30 PCs To School Facing Digital Poverty

Thirty youngsters will now be able to complete lessons online after receiving a generous donation of computers from a local water company.

Essex & Suffolk Water has donated the computers to the Holy Cross Primary School in Thurrock as part of a campaign to give all young students equal opportunities.

The water company has worked in partnership with Essex Police and Dot Com Children’s Foundation to donate the PCs to Holy Cross Primary School, in South Ockendon, giving children access to vital digital materials during the second national lockdown.

The donated equipment will make a significant difference to the students, who will now be able to use online resources within the classroom during the pandemic.

In addition, the pupils will now be able to use the desktop computers to take part in the Dot Com Digital Programme, created with Essex Police and the Foundation, which focusses on online safeguarding and cybersecurity for youngsters.

The primary school currently has few working devices, and the PCs will allow pupils to experience blended learning during the pandemic.

Heather Westrop, Assistant Head Teacher, said: “The donation of 30 computers from Essex & Suffolk Water is a wonderful gift for the school.

“There are many challenges on budgets for schools and technology is ever-changing so we only had a small number of devices for pupils to use, half a class at a time.

“The new computers mean we now have an IT suite for a full class and the children can participate in the Dot Com Digital programme with Essex Police, allowing us to teach our pupils to actively stay safe online especially in this time of blended and home learning.”

Nigel Watson, Group Information Services Director at Essex & Suffolk Water added: “At Essex & Suffolk Water we are constantly looking for ways that we can support our local communities.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to partner with Essex Police and the Dot Com Foundation in order to help the pupils at Holy Cross Primary. Staying safe online is incredibly important, and I believe that teaching children about online safeguarding and security is vital.

“We recognise that with the current COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of things have moved online, however children living in digital poverty are unable to engage with these learning resources.

“I hope that these pupils are able to make the most of these facilities as we move towards an increasingly digital future.”

Assistant Chief Constable of Essex Police Andy Prophet said: “I am incredibly proud of the work between Essex Police, Dot.Com, local schools and businesses.

“Our work with children to help them stay safe online and in the real world is vitally important. I want to thank everyone involved in this brilliant, innovative partnership endeavour.”

Dot Com Digital Online Resource

The Dot Com Digital programme is our latest wellbeing resource, aimed at children aged 5-11, it adopts a values-based approach that empowers children to develop confidence and make safe choices. It includes overviews, videos, lesson plans and online and paper-based activities.

Download a sample lesson pack.

Created by Sharon Doughty, Dot Com Digital is an enhanced digital version of the Dot Com safeguarding programme which has been developed by children and safeguarding leads with input from Essex Police, the National Police Chief Council and, Internet Intelligence & Investigations.

Dot Com Digital contains a wealth of lessons for ages 5-11 based around themes including:

• Families and People Who Care For Me
• Caring Friendships
• Respectful Relationships
• Being Safe and Internet Safety Threats
• Mental Wellbeing
• Physical Health, Fitness and Healthy Eating
• Health and Prevention
• Changing Bodies

The platform includes a Digital Dot Minute, which children can use if they are feeling worried or afraid of something. This can provide a safe way for children to report worries and allows them to raise issues with the teacher in a confidential way.

In the first phase of DotCom, available from the end of October 2020, there are up to 14 lessons per age group and the remaining lessons will be added in Spring 2021. The Dot Com Digital programme will meet the 2020 RSE statutory framework.

We have put together a sample pack of lessons that give you an overview of what is included in the Dot Com Digital programme which supports children’s personal, social and emotional development and helps provide a safe space for them to learn the skills to lead a safe and happy life.

Nicola Finney, Head of St Paul’s Primary
“The Dot Com programme is an excellent tool to meet all the new RSE requirements starting in September. It covers the very sensitive safeguarding issues around County Lines, drugs and gangs in a way that is very accessible to the children and very clear and structured for the teacher. We are using Dot Com Digital to help children recover from the COVID crisis and help them process their feelings. Also to support them with relationships and their mental health. “

Dot Com Digital includes a set of free resources to support children’s safety and resilience against emerging threats. Created with children, safeguarding leads, Essex Police and the National Police Chief Council Lead for Internet Intelligence and Investigations, Dot Com Digital will keep up to date with current trends and issues reported by children and the police, and part of our commitment is to ensure this will also be within this free section.

Find out more here: 2simple.com/dot-com-digital

shallow focus photography of person walking on road between grass

Walking for Dot

By Linda Duberley, Rivertribe Magazine

The COVID-19 crisis has pushed many of the UK’s small charities to the brink of financial collapse but RiverTribe’s media partner, the Dot Com Foundation has survived the pandemic thanks to a ground-breaking altruistic project. The Positive Transformation Initiative set up by businessman and philanthropist, Dan Brown, has stepped in to support the Foundation as we pulled out of lockdown.

Dan Brown set up PTI, a group of key business professionals, eighteen months ago. They aim to support organisations making a vital contribution to the community in the UK and beyond.

Together with lawyer Sylvia White, and Barry Matthews who form part of the core team at PTI, now have enough cash to weather the storm that is likely to take down hundreds of charities under threat.

Over the past few months, Sylvia White, General Counsel and an in-house legal adviser, has given her time pro-bono to help the charity and now believes in the cause so much that has decided to generate some much-needed funds by walking a marathon this Sunday, June 21.

www.gofundme.com/f/walking-for-dot

Co-founder of the Dot Com Foundation, Sharon Doughty, said, “I am very grateful that the Dot Com Foundation is one of the first projects being undertaken by PTI. We believe our unique approach in supporting youngsters threatened by abuse, drugs or crime, has never been needed more. We can’t just continue to deal with these issues in a superficial way – we have to empower children in recognising and assessing danger and deliver a way for them to get help. Dot is a tool which gives children life skills to deal with their own mental health and emotions.”

Sharon, a former Sky News presenter and her husband Neil, a former Metropolitan Police Officer, have been running the Dot Com Children’s Foundation and fundraising for it for 15 years and have been supported by several police forces. More than a million children have learned through paper-based journals and just before COVID-19 struck the couple faced the daunting job of digitising the content to set up www.dotcomdigital.co.uk

Essex Police Chief Constable, BJ Harrington and Stephen Kavanagh Executive Director of Police Forces at Interpol and the former UK Head of Digital Security were instrumental in supporting the Foundation.

“Funding in time of change is always difficult and then COVID-19 came along and schools closed and it has required all our fortitude to keep going. COVID-19 has had a severe impact on charitable funding.

“I created the cartoon character Dot Com who would be a friend to children because as a child growing up between the ages of 3 and 7 I lived with domestic violence and sexual abuse.

“The trauma of these experiences led to learning difficulties and I was not able to read until I was 8 years old and safely living with my maternal grandmother. I was lucky to be loved and mentored by a number of wonderful people and so recovered and went on to be an international newsreader.

“I started the Dot Com learning programme so that no other child would suffer the pain of feeling alone and not understanding how to ask for help. I believe that we have all learned, while in the grip of this terrible virus, that a sense of being in things together is so comforting.

“When I started Dot Com I was blessed that Nelson Mandela was Dot’s first supporter. He said, “if we were all imbued with the same spirit of kindness the world would be a better place for children”.

“The charity needs financial support to go forward and I would ask if you could support Sylvia in her brave endeavour to walk a marathon for Dot by donating.

www.gofundme.com/f/walking-for-dot

Child-Friendly Explanation of the Coronavirus

Explaining to Children what the Coronavirus is and how it might affect them presents a difficult situation. Dot Com wants to help by providing a simple resource for children to read and communicate how they feel. 

Click on the image below to download the resource.

County lines gangs and knife crime to be tackled in primary schools with cartoon character Dot Com

A cartoon character has been deployed in the fight to stop primary school children falling into the clutches of county lines drugs gangs.

Dot Com and an array of other characters will help children spot dangerous situations, talk to their teachers about their worries and feel safe on the internet.

The computer programme was designed by Dot Com Children’s Foundation and Essex Police and was designed around the feedback they got from children.

Games and activities aim to help children understand challenging subjects such as grooming, county lines – the practice of shipping class A drugs from the saturated London market to the home counties – and knife crime.

It was created because of growing concerns around these issues and the safety of children, as exploitation within drug gangs continues to dominate the news.

Recent figures show Kent is the most crime-ridden region in the south east as the county’s police force battles county lines and knife crime.

And despite knife crime dropping by 3% last year, it has risen by 146% over the last decade, faster than anywhere else in the country.

The cartoon characters will also be used to help young people talk to teachers about their feelings.

Pupils will learn about their “uh-oh signs,” which are the sensations they will feel when in danger such as sweating, shivering and butterflies in their stomach.

Once they have the vocabulary to express their feelings, children can use the “dot minute” button on their computer screens to alert the teacher of their distress without alerting the rest of the class.The initiative was launched at Bett 2020, an annual trade show for technology in education, and 1,363 schools across the country have already signed up.

However, it is thought that Kent schools are yet to register.

Sharon Doughty, creator of the Dot Com Programme, said: “Dot Com Digital gives children a voice and a way to ask for help in the classroom without drawing attention to themselves.

“When I suffered abuse in my childhood I had no way of asking the teacher for help and it gives me great comfort to know that Dot Com can be the friend to children that I never had.”

Originally post on Kent Online.

TEDx

Sharon Doughty Speaks at TEDx

Giving Children the Power to Speak Up

Sharon recently took part in a TEDx talk to discuss her creation of Dot Com and what led to her being an advocate for giving children the power to speak. During her talk she discusses:

  • How important it is to give children the skills needed to speak up about issues which frighten or worry them.
  • How after a near-fatal car crash on her way to the BBC studios she decided to stop keeping the secret of her childhood – which was growing up with violence and abuse
  • How she created a friend for children called Dot Com who would empower them to speak up if they are afraid
  • How she is working with Essex Police and the national police chief council to roll out a new free resource for schools to protect children from the current digital threat, which has been sponsored by DataArt and is hosted free by Microsoft

A Modern Workplace builds trust, allays fear and gives hope to People-in-Crisis

Protection of people at risk within our society is some of the most important work public sector agencies carry out. It requires a strong multi-agency approach, sharing the right information at the right time in order to deliver coherent strategies with early tactical interventions.

Minttulip & Microsoft hosted a public sector-wide event on 11 July in London and focused on protection of our at-risk people and how the public sector can work more effectively and efficiently across multiple agencies. This was a new style interactive session with lively discussion bringing adult social care, councils, healthcare, police, fire, central government, and charities together to drive conversations on and how new technology and practical cultural change can empower better ways of working. Here’s a snapshot of what was shared by multi-agencies.

In the afternoon, Sharon gave an inspiring talk on how her book helps children learn how to value themselves and others and make safer choices in their lives. ​Delivered by the teacher supported by the emergency services and local community role models. ​Gives children the tools to prevent them being groomed or drawn into violence and crime. 

The mood lightened when 7 children in the pilot programme, from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Essex received a standing ovation after each student told us how important they felt this was to them. Sharon expressed gratitude to Essex Police, Microsoft and DataArt for helping to make Dot Com DigitalWatch Holy Cross Catholic Primary School Got Talent sessionhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njC58feotbU&feature=share 

Innovative digital safety resource created by children for children included in new DfE guidance for teachers

Pilot of “Dot Com Digital” child safeguarding resource launched in Stoke school as Department for Education includes the tool in new online safety guidance for teachers

New child safety guidance for teachers released today (26 Jun) by the Department for Education cites Dot Com Digital as a resource for teachers, alongside NSPCC Learning, ChildNet and the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

The move comes in the wake of yesterday’s launch by the Dot Com Children’s Foundation of a pilot of the newly developed online child safeguarding resource at St Paul’s Primary School in Stoke. The resource is being piloted in six schools for fine-tuning by children and teachers, before being rolled out across England and Wales later in the year.

Created for children by children, and developed and built by global technology consultancy, DataArt, Dot Com Digital aims to prevent young people becoming victims of online grooming, radicalisation, exploitation and bullying by giving them the confidence to recognise warning signs and reach out to an adult for help.

Developed in on-going consultation with children, and born out of a collaboration between Dot Com Children’s Foundation and Essex Police, the programme uses digital technology to draw a teacher’s attention to children who may be at higher risk of becoming a victim of crime.

DataArt worked in consultation with children at Holy Cross Primary in Essex to build and develop the programme while Microsoft is providing the cloud infrastructure for the programme

Two thousand children at schools in London, Stoke, Birmingham and North Wales will also take part in a pilot before Dot Com Digital is rolled out nationally in October.

The programme is an enhanced, digital version of an education programme Dot Com Children’s Foundation has been using successfully in primary schools nationally for more than 15 years, in which children complete a series of worksheets addressing a range of issues including social values, feelings of worry and how they feel about themselves.

Dorothy Com, or Dot Com to her friends, the friendly cartoon character at the forefront of the original programme, who has gained widespread popularity with children, will now be taken digital and be the “face” of Dot Com Digital.

Aimed at primary school children aged nine to 11, Dot Com Digital takes pupils through online safety lessons recording thoughts and feelings in their own personal digital journal. Dot helps them learn about risks they could encounter in the digital world and gives them the chance to ask their teacher for a ‘Dot Com Minute’ to discuss any worries or concerns they have. It also teaches children to recognise their own signs of danger, and to understand their feelings and how to manage them.

The system alerts teachers to children who have written or drawn material that could indicate they are at risk. As a double safeguarding measure Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools are simultaneously alerted. If concerned, schools are then able to share information with appropriate agencies such as police or social care services.

Founder of Dot Com Children’s Foundation, and child abuse survivor, Sharon Doughty, said:
“I am delighted that the new guidance released by the DFE cites Dot Com Digital as a resource. I grew up in an abusive home where I did not have a voice. Dot Com Digital takes a successful programme into the digital sphere, and builds on it, meaning more children will be able to talk with their teachers, the police and other professionals about their online worries.”

Anton Bagrov, Senior Account Executive at DataArt, said:
“It is fantastic that the DFE has included Dot Com Digital in its new guidance. DataArt became involved in this project because we were convinced that our technological expertise combined with the knowledge and experience of the Dot Com Children’s Foundation and the Police, we could significantly help reduce danger to children.”

Dot Com Children’s Foundation and Essex Police have launched a trial of a new online safety resource at a primary school in Thurrock, Essex. The resource will be used in six schools, for review and fine tuning by children and teachers, before being rolled out across England and Wales later in the year.

Created for children by children, Dot Com Digital aims to prevent young people becoming victims of online grooming, radicalisation, exploitation and bullying by giving them the confidence to recognise warning signs and reach out to an adult for help.

Developed in on-going consultation with children, Dot Com Digital is the result of a collaboration by Dot Com Children’s Foundation and Essex Police.

Built by technology consultancy DataArt, a gold affiliate partner of Microsoft, who will provide cloud infrastructure, it uses digital technology to draw a teacher’s attention to children who may be at higher risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Sharon Doughty, founder of Dot Com Children’s Foundation, Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Worron, Head of Public Protection at Essex Police, Jen Housego, Head of Digital Change at Essex Police, and Anton Bagrov of DataArt, will launch the project at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Thurrock.

The South Ockendon school was selected to be one of the first to trial the resource as they have been a flagship school for the programme for six years. In June last year, 45 children from year six took part in a workshop to put forward ideas and help create content that would appeal to their peers. Two thousand children at schools in London, Stoke, Birmingham and North Wales will also take part in a pilot before Dot Com Digital is rolled out nationally in October.

The programme is an enhanced, digital version of an education programme Dot Com Children’s Foundation has been using successfully in primary schools nationally for more than 15 years, in which children complete a series of worksheets addressing a range of issues including social values, feelings of worry and how they feel about themselves.

Dorothy Com, or Dot Com to her friends, the friendly cartoon character at the forefront of the original programme, who has gained widespread popularity with children, will now be taken digital and be the “face” of Dot Com Digital.

Aimed at primary school children aged nine to 11, Dot Com Digital takes pupils through online safety lessons recording thoughts and feelings in their own personal digital journal. Dot helps them learn about risks they could encounter in the digital world and gives them the chance to ask their teacher for a ‘Dot Com Minute’ to discuss any worries or concerns they have. It also teaches children to recognise their own signs of danger, and to understand their feelings and how to manage them.

The system alerts teachers to children who have written or drawn material that could indicate they are at risk. As a double safeguarding measure Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools are simultaneously alerted. If concerned, schools are then able to share information with appropriate agencies such as police or social care services.

The project was conceived in 2017, when it was identified an innovative approach was needed to tackle the online threat against young people. A partnership between Essex Police and Dot Com Children’s Foundation was created. Technology company DataArt subsequently joined the partnership offering their expertise. DataArt built the platform, gifting it free of charge, and Microsoft agreed to host the platform on its Azure Cloud at no cost. The trial will be fully funded until the end of the year and will be free for schools to use. Training on how to use the system to its full potential will also be offered at no extra cost.

Sharon Doughty, founder of Dot Com Children’s Foundation, said:
“I grew up in an abusive home where I did not have a voice. This led me 15 years ago to set up the Dot Com Children’s Foundation. This new development, taking a successful programme into the digital sphere, means that with the help of Dot Com more children will be able to talk with their teachers, the police and other professionals about their online worries and are part of building a resource which will help protect them and their friends in the future.

The children in this project were the driving force, and their continued participation is key to this unique programme.”

BJ Harrington, Chief Constable of Essex Police, said:
“Children can be among the most vulnerable in our community but sadly, it is a reality that online threats against them are increasing. This is not an issue that one single agency can tackle effectively and I am proud to be part of a partnership that is so passionate about doing all it can to protect young people.

Dot Com Digital takes an innovative approach, using the latest technology and the imagination of a group of children to help them and their peers recognise the signs of grooming, exploitation and bullying and have the confidence to seek help.”

Anton Bagrov, Senior Account Executive at DataArt, said:
“Over the past few months we have worked in consultation with children from Holy Cross Primary to create the Dot Com Digital platform and it’s exciting today to see everyone’s hard work come to life.

The resource is based on the “Dot Com” programme, which has been running as a paper-based resource for fifteen years, and we are proud to support the digitalisation of the platform that will give children across the UK access to the programme. It has been an incredible and important project to be part of and demonstrates how technology can be used for good.”

Dot Com Safety Initiative Launched

A NEW online safety resource for children launched at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Daiglen Drive, South Ockendon today (Wednesday, 5 June).

The resource, Dot Com Digital, is the product of a partnership between Essex Police and national charity Dot Com Children’s Foundation.

It has been built by DataArt and aims to prevent children becoming victims of online grooming, radicalisation, exploitation and bullying by giving them the confidence to recognise the signs and reach out to an adult for help.

It also uses clever technology to highlight to teachers children who may be at higher risk of becoming a victim.

The project launched at the school after a group of year six children there took part in a workshop to put forward their ideas and help create content that would appeal to their peers.

During the launch presentation children spoke to the programme designers via a live video link to Russia.

Aimed at children aged four to 11, Dot Com Digital sees pupils take part in online safety lessons before completing their own personal digital journal.

Cartoon character Dot and her friends help children learn about the risks they might encounter in the digital world and teaches them how to recognise their own body signs of danger.

Originally posted on: Thurrock & South Essex Independent

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