Digital safeguarding procedures
Follow these procedures to make sure you're staying safe online and following our Digital safeguarding policy
The online space is being used more and more by all of us in guiding
We recognise this brings new opportunities and challenges. That’s why we all need to continue to follow our Digital safeguarding policy and our Code of Conduct when connecting with young people online.
These procedures set out how to put the Digital safeguarding policy into practice.
- Electronic devices – desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, game consoles.
- Digital platforms – tools for guiding online such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.
- Social media – websites and apps that create social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok.
- Adult member – anyone over 18 years of age who is a member of Girlguiding.
- Young member – anyone who is a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or Ranger, or who is in any role and is under 18, for example a young leader.
- Volunteer - anyone over 18 years of age who gives their time to Girlguiding without being paid. This covers all volunteering roles within Girlguiding – including those involving working directly with young members and those involving no direct contact with young members.
Acceptable use of digital technology
Your responsibilities for digital safeguarding include:
- Where Girlguiding volunteers have access to electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which are owned by Girlguiding, the unit or level, they must agree to use the equipment safely, securely, and responsibly.
- As a volunteer you can use your personal device for Girlguiding business, but you must take actions explained below to reduce the online risks and to protect members and volunteers. Where volunteers use personal devices for Girlguiding business, their use must be transparent, open to scrutiny and in line with the Digital safeguarding policy.
Users of Girlguiding’s equipment must never:
- Share, download, print or distribute any content that is illegal, defamatory, obscene, indecent, pornographic, offensive, discriminatory, sexual or violent, or any other content that may cause harassment, alarm or distress.
- Use any Girlguiding equipment to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others.
- Make sure that all electronic devices, including mobile phones, are password protected.
- Where you are sharing a personal device make sure that only people with permission can ensure that access to Girlguiding data is limited to those that have permission. view Girlguiding data and information.
- If you're asking for personal information by email, use an email account which isn’t shared with anyone else, including family members or other volunteers in your unit.
- Check the Managing information procedure for more details on what you must do.
You must make sure that young members accessing the internet or digital materials are supervised in an age-appropriate way.
Use security and safety settings, such as parental controls, when setting things up. Theses are designed to help protect children from inappropriate content online, such as pornography or other adult content.
Keeping all our members safe is a priority when we connect online, and volunteers must understand and adhere to any third-party provider terms and conditions, including minimum age requirements.
Using social media
When used well, email, social media and the internet are great tools for contacting other members, welcoming new young members, and volunteers to Girlguiding and as a platform to promote Girlguiding.
We want our social media channels to reflect the values we uphold as an organisation; to be kind, courteous, thoughtful of others, inclusive, inspiring and above all, fun.
Follow these steps to do this safely and securely:
- Social media accounts set up on behalf of, or representing, Girlguiding - like a Facebook group for your district or a Twitter for your unit - must follow our policies and procedures, including our resources on promotion using social media, and how to use our brand.
- Add a short description on any social media set up in the name of Girlguiding that explains what you provide and who the account is for.
- You must include a short statement that makes it clear who owns the content. For example, you could say: ‘the views expressed are those of Girlguiding ‘insert name’ county'.
- Follow all community guidelines and terms and conditions set out by the social media providers, including age restrictions.
- You can find more guidance on digital platforms, including social media, in our guidance on digital platforms for guiding and promotion using social media.
Always behave in the same way on social media as you would in person. Be aware of what you say and how you say it.
Remember that anything you post on social media will be widely accessible and can easily be passed on. Always be sure that any posts you make are appropriate, and in keeping with our values and policies.
Check facts before sharing to avoid any misinformation and always follow our code of conduct.
You must not:
- Post or share anything, including images, that is discriminatory, of a sexual nature, pornographic, obscene, violent, offensive. Or that might cause distress, harassment or alarm to others, or bring Girlguiding into disrepute.
- Share opinions which could be viewed as discriminatory abuse against anyone on the basis of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010. These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
- Share photographs or communicate with young members through social media privately without parent or carer permission.
- Taking and sharing photos and videos is great for showing all the exciting events and activities that we offer girls. But, parents, carers or girls themselves might not want their picture taken or shared
- You must get permission for photography from parents and carers. Use the new starter forms to help girls and their parents or carers take control of how their images are used
- Review and check these permissions as and when you need to. And make sure you check parent/carer photo permissions on GO
- To get permission for taking photos at events and residentials, use the information and consent form
- You must delete images from your personal devices once they've been used for the purpose that they were taken for, and within 14 days after the event has taken place
- You must also check emails and personal cloud back-ups to make sure that pictures or images are deleted from there as well
- Photos can be stored on a password protected device in a secure folder until they need to be deleted
- You cannot use photos or video of girls that have left guiding, even if they gave their permission at the time. Any permissions given end when a girl leaves the unit. You can keep some photos in your unit archives, but these cannot be used publicly. The unit retention schedule sets out the length of time you can keep different types of data
- Read the data protection FAQs for guidance on archiving photos
Using instant messaging online
When considering instant messaging platforms and apps, check the terms and conditions, privacy settings and age limits before deciding which app to use.
Using these apps can involve sharing people's phone number with a whole group. You'll need to ask people for their permission before you add them to a group. And let them know they can leave at any time. When using Facebook, people must opt in to give their consent.
On WhatsApp you can set up a broadcast list which keeps phone numbers private. To find out more read WhatsApp's advice on setting up broadcast lists.
You should not contact a parent or carer using online video calls or virtual meetings outside of the pre-arranged meeting time.
Messaging with young members
Sometimes you will need to talk with young members through digital messages. Keep everyone safe by making sure there's no one-to-one contact between a volunteer and a young member.
You need to do this during virtual meetings too. Girls may want to speak privately, for example if they don't feel well, but we advise against that and you should avoid it.
If a girl does message you during a virtual meeting, you should tell them that it cannot be a private conversation. Then you or they can add someone else to the chat.
If a young member uses a channel that cannot have someone ‘copied in’, like WhatsApp, you should still tell them that this cannot be a private chat and introduce someone else into the conversation.
If a young member contacts you on a channel that is not age appropriate, for example using WhatsApp when they're under 16, you must move the conversation to a more appropriate platform, and copy someone else in. Do not forget to reply to the young member, as no response might impact their safety, health and wellbeing.
Aged 14 -17
Young members aged 14 years or older must add their details to GO. The starter form for 14-17-year-olds needs to be completed and signed by a parent or carer with parental responsibility.
You must never contact members under the age of 14 directly without their parents or carers permission.
Young external volunteer aged 13
Use the new starter form for young external volunteers aged 13 to get contact details for their parent or carer, so you can send all relevant communication through them.
Once they turn 14, the volunteer can give their leader a personal email address so that they can log into GO and add their own contact details.
Brownie and Rainbow helper
When a girl becomes a helper, you must get contact details for her parents or carers so that you can send her all relevant communications through them. You must not communicate directly with helpers under the age of 14 by phone, email, text, social media or other digital or electronic means.
A completed Information and consent for event/activity form is required for Rainbow and Brownie helpers for any activities away from the meeting place and a virtual meeting consent form is needed for online meetings.
For all girl-led residentials, an information and consent form must be completed, with parental or carer consent given for you to contact young members directly if needed.
Managing the use of digital devices in your unit
You might not always want girls to be using their phones and devices during meetings or activities. It can help manage your unit and give girls a fuller experience if you limit when and where they are used. You should talk with young members about:
- Bringing their mobile devices to unit meetings, events and camps. Decide as a group before the event what your guidelines will be
- Using their mobile phone or other device appropriately and responsibly. Make sure they know how to get permission before sharing photos or videos
- Using social media responsibly and safely, within the community guidelines and terms and conditions of the platform. Remember to talk about any age restrictions.
Young members must not:
- Use their device to bully, harass, alarm, distress or harm another young member or a volunteer
- Share images or videos on social media without permission
- Access, download, view or distribute inappropriate, indecent, discriminatory or hate material
- Contact volunteers directly without their parents or carers permission, except in an emergency
- Send friend requests to or follow volunteers' individual or personal accounts without their parents or carers permission
- Use social media inappropriately, or use channels where they do not meet the age restrictions
- Bully, harass, intimidate, alarm or cause distress to another person using social media
- Share indecent, sexually explicit or inappropriate material
- Be in a one-to-one conversation with a volunteer. Girls may want to speak privately with a volunteer, but we advise against it and it must be avoided whenever possible.
Our young member policy sets out our expectations of young members.
In cases of child and adult safeguarding and protection all volunteers should refer to our safeguarding policy.