Keeping Safe on the Internet

On Wednesday, I had a nice day out from work to go to a Think U Know training course in Cardiff. Think U Know is a website run by  The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) which has information for children aged 5 – 7, 8 – 10 & 11 – 16 on how to stay safe on the internet etc. It also has information for parents and resources for ‘educators’ (not just teachers, but youth workers etc.) to train to young people.

The course I went on means I can now use their resources to train young people on internet safety and I will be doing so soon at work. There is a further course which I am going to take, that will enable me to train other adults to be able to do the training as well.

One of the things CEOP does is to provide a button that can be put onto a website, so that if a young person has a problem, they can click it and report the problem. This button is on the Scout Association’s site and now my Group’s site. Many schools have it on their websites and it’s even available as an add on to various browsers, in MSN Messenger and Facebook. The button is below.


For those of you in not in the UK, there is the Virtual Global Taskforce, of which CEOP is a part, which has a similar reporting mechanism and resources available.

With the resources available, whether you’ve received the training or not, it means that young people, parents, teachers, Scout Leaders etc. can be aware of the dangers on the internet and how to avoid them. I’d advise anyone who is a parent or is an ‘educator’ of any kind to take a look. The stuff on Think U Know would be useful to people in other countries as well.

I am looking at putting something together for the Scouts in our Troop at some point in the near future, so when I have, I’ll post about it.

Games in the Dark

Since I wrote my ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety post, the Scout Association have issued some guidelines about playing games in the dark (see the bit about the bloke who sued for a shoulder injury).

The advice reads –

Games advice


A recent judgement on a Scouting accident which occurred in 2001 relates to a game run in the dark and has led to enquiries from leaders.

The Judge in the case acknowledged the value that Scouting brings to young people and the wider community. It is important to appreciate that the judgement related to a specific case with specific circumstances where a game was intended to be played in the light and was simply transferred to dark conditions, indoors, without sufficient consideration given for the increased risk involved in the view of the Judge.

This judgement does not mean the end of games in the dark.

Assess risk

The key message continues to be that you remember to assess the risk for your activity and consider whether it is suitable to take place in the dark and, if it is, what additional controls might need to be in place to keep it safe.

Some games are best played outside only, where there is much more space.

Additionally, after a spate of Dodgeball incidents, please follow the same principles; assess the risks and consider the surface of the activity area, and whether it is free of slip and trip hazards.

Some games are played standing on chairs or benches. Be sure this is suitable for the age and ability of those playing.


In summary, when planning all games – consider:

1. The space and environment in which your game is taking place

Explain boundaries or potential hazards that perhaps can’t be removed such as walls (lots of injuries are caused by running into walls to stop – broken wrists, bumped heads, for example), polished wooden floors, tables and chairs around the edge of the room.

2. The age and ability of those taking part

3. Do they know the rules?

It is good to remind them in case of new joiners or if they have not played it for a while.

4. Ensure adequate supervision

Remember, those games, locations and activities we use most often are assumed the safest and may be forgotten as having potential for an accident when assessing the risk.

Which can be basically read as ‘Don’t be Stupid’! A lot of H & S stuff can be boiled down to that simple statement, but unfortunately these things do need spelling out to people in very simple terms to ensure that accidents don’t happen!

Still, nice to read that the SA are issuing sensible advice and not banning everything in sight.

A Change in the Rules

Every year or so, the Scout Association updates the rules by which the organisation is run. These rules, Policy, Organisation & Rules (PO&R) have just been updated.

There are many changes reflecting the the way Scouting needs to be run in 2011. I won’t go into them all, but one of the more interesting ones is with regard to Beaver’s nights away. The change in rules, together with this factsheet, now says that Beavers can stay away from home for longer than 24 hours (the previous rule) as long as it’s for one night. The problem with the 24 hour rule was that it made everything a bit rushed. It meant that you had, for example, to start the ‘camp’ late in the morning so breakfast etc. the following day wasn’t too rushed. This change now means that a camp can be run from 9 in the morning, to say, 3 the following afternoon, which means more activities and less rushing.

The other major change is that Beavers can now camp under canvas, as long as there is suitable alternative indoor accommodation available in case of adverse weather conditions. Actually they could before, but that was only on a family camp with their parents.

My Group’s Beaver Leader is really enthusiastic about the increase in time for Beaver camps, but she says she’ll hold off on the camping under canvas for a little while longer!

These changes in rules are great for the Beavers and hopefully will mean that they have a lifelong love of camping.

‘Elf ‘n’ Safety

Back in September I wrote about the health and safety culture that is creeping into Scouting (well all aspects of everyday life really) and how it is being taken to the extremes. The main problem being the ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’ type culture.

After watching the film of the Chief Scout’s visit to Kibblestone in 1963, I did have a little go at the campsite for removing some of the ‘dangerous’  activities on the site (rope swings and the swimming pool). I’d then sent an email to a couple of people in the District to let them know about this interesting film and I did have a little moan about the fact the campsite is getting too safety conscious for its own good and somewhat boring. In fact, I can’t remember when our Scouts last camped there – and this is ‘our’ site!

One of the people I emailed, replied to me –

I know – but whereas in the past had there been an accident on a rope swing, I suspect nobody would say anything, now somebody would say “But your Health and Safety check reported it as a potential hazard and you did nothing, therefore all insurance is invalid and Kibblestone will face financial ruin and be closed down”. A very sad statement about the World we live in but they had to react to that one and not some ideal!!

I was there when the discussion took place – heard all the arguments but in the end the rope swings had to go!!

Thanks no win no fee lawyers.

The other thing that came to my attention was the case of a man who sued the Scout Association as he sustained an injury to his shoulder in 2001 while playing a game in the dark. To be fair the report says that –

An MRI scan in 2007 disclosed a “permanent impaction injury”, which meant he would always suffer pain when the shoulder was under stress.

However, he can still happily play rugby!

It wasn’t a particularly dangerous game or badly run as the Scout Association didn’t leave the Group in question to fend for themselves!

So thanks again no win no fee lawyers.

As I said before, I am very much in favour of being safe, but not to the point that there is no adventure. It’s right to be safe and prepared, but in the end, it’s gone too far.