Knowing how to respond to a digital incident and what first steps to take is essential to reducing further harm and minimising distress.

Examples of incidents range from school fights, cyber bullying, inappropriate image sharing, privacy breaches and incitement to self-harm or harassment online. 

The goal is to ensure the wellbeing and safety of those involved, and to work towards a resolution so that a positive learning environment is maintained. It is important to remember that the focus should be on the behaviours behind the online incident and not the technology.
The principles that guide how schools respond to digital incidents are to:

  • minimise student / staff distress or harm
  • maintain student / staff safety
  • focus on the behaviors – not the technology
  • follow school processes regarding student consent and confidentiality

When an incident arises it can impact senior leadership and pastoral teams and also front-line teaching staff who may be alerted to an online incident  or be supporting a student with an incident. 

The school’s usual disciplinary or behaviour management practices apply and schools have the authority to act even if the incident has taken place outside of school.

The guide

The responding to digital incidents guide is a quick reference guide to help schools to support affected students and staff with harmful digital communications events. 

Use the guide when reviewing and updating existing school processes that apply to the use of digital devices and online spaces for learning.  Personalise any of the options to reflect individual circumstances.

The guide outlines first actions and considerations, including: Gathering of facts to determine what has happened and who is involved

  • Supporting those involved
  • Recording all details of the incident
  • Determining the nature and legality of the content
  • Knowing the ‘Must Do’s’, and the ‘Don’ts’
  • Contacting those who need to know and organisations who can support and advise
  • Communicating as necessary with those who need to know