Internet safety for children and young people: national action plan

Refreshed action plan on internet safety for children and young people to ensure appropriate training, support and information is in place.

Every child and young person has an age appropriate and evolving understanding of the opportunities and risks which exist in the online world

Contributory outcomes

  • Children and young people are aware of their rights and responsibilities in the online world
  • Children and young people are resilient and are equipped to help themselves and their peers
  • Children and young people are able to identify when they, or their peers, are at risk, and know what to do if they spot something

What we're already doing


The Scottish Government is an official supporter of the 5Rights coalition. We awarded £100,000 of funding to place young people at the heart of the 5Rights coalition in Scotland and support them to develop insights and make recommendations about rights in the digital world.

The project identified a Youth Commission, consisting of 18 young people from across Scotland to develop informed insights, ideas, recommendations and solutions in relation to how Scotland can become a nation which realises and respects children and young people's digital rights.

The 5Rights coalition recognises that the internet and digital technologies are a fundamental part of children and young people's lives. It believes that children and young people must be empowered to access the digital world creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.

The 5Rights are:

  • The right to remove: every child and young person should have the right to easily edit or delete all content they have created.
  • The right to know: children and young people have the right to know who is holding or profiting from their information, what their information is being used for and whether it is being copied, sold or traded.
  • The right to safety and support: children and young people should be confident that they will be protected from illegal practices and supported if confronted by troubling or upsetting scenarios online.
  • The right to informed and conscious use: children and young people should be empowered to reach into creative places online, but at the same time have the capacity and support to easily disengage.
  • The right to digital literacy: to access the knowledge that the internet can deliver, children and young people need to be taught the skills to use, create and critique digital technologies, and given the tools to negotiate changing social norms.

Youth Work

Youth work professionals and volunteers are supporting young people to engage with their wellbeing online through informal discussion and a range of interventions focusing on 'sexting', basic digital skills, digital footprint, healthy relationships and more. Supporting young people with internet safety contributes to the National Youth Work Outcomes.

Education Programmes

Children and young people will learn about the safe and responsible use of different technologies, including the internet and social media, as part of their broad general education under Curriculum for Excellence. The new Experiences and Outcomes that relate to Digital Literacy, as well as the associated benchmarks, will clarify expectations on the learning that should be delivered in our schools.

While the Curriculum for Excellence framework is set at a national level, it is for local authorities and schools to determine how they will deliver the curriculum to best suit local need.

There are a number of supporting programmes which are outlined below.

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme empowers children and young people aged 4-18 years to champion digital citizenship and digital creativity within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online. Delivered as part of Childnet's work as a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, the programme offers pupils access to an innovative online community and structured training, as well as on-going support from Childnet's team, to equip them to be effective role models and peer educators.

The Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme (MVP ) is a Scottish Government funded, peer mentoring programme which utilises a creative bystander approach to prevent all forms of bullying and gender based violence in schools. MVP provides numerous opportunities to discuss the impact of the internet ‎on peer to peer and early intimate relationships. MVP scenarios are in place to discuss online behaviour and sexting with aims of raising awareness around the harms and legal consequences of these behaviours. Importantly, MVP provides young people with options to support and safely challenge peers involved in these incidents.

The Scottish Government has provided funding to support the continued expansion of the MVP programme until 2018 which will help MVP reach an additional 30,000 young people in an additional 93 secondary schools across Scotland to educate children and young people about internet safety using peer mentoring approaches.

The Choices for Life Be Smart Peer Mentoring Programme , created in partnership with Trend Micro and supported by the Scottish Government and Young Scot, was launched by Police Scotland in January 2017. This programme is based on 3 short films that focus on young people's online profile, sexting and online bullying. The films provide the basis for workshops where young people interact and start a conversation about online matters. Over 150 teachers, youth workers, social workers and young people are trained to deliver the programme so far.

Thinkuknow is an education programme produced by the National Crime Agency's ( NCA) Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre ( CEOP) Command which provides resources, training and support for professionals who work directly with children and young people. It consists of films, learning activities and other resources which have been developed in response to intelligence from child protection experts within the CEOP Command. The resources are designed to help children and young people keep themselves safe from sexual abuse and exploitation by developing skills in identifying and avoiding risk, learning how best to protect themselves and their friends, and knowing how to get support and report abuse if they do encounter difficulties.

In addition to the resources produced for professionals, CEOP also provide online advice and a 'report abuse' tool for parents and children and young people via the Thinkuknow website.


Abertay University in Dundee have been working to deliver a project with Woman's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre ( WRASAC) Dundee and Angus and ( RASACPK) Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Perth and Kinross who deal with rape and sexual violence against women to develop a game for schools based on healthy respect including sexual consent, hyper sexualisation of young women and masculinities of young men. Students at the university developed a prototype of a game, called 'After Party' which won the People's Choice Award the Games4Health competition at the University of Utah in 2016.

The University of Abertay are currently working on an inter-disciplinary, cross national study in partnership with WRASAC, NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council and the Institute for Health Risk Behaviours in Portugal to develop a card game as an educational game for schools that focuses on consent, sexting and hyper sexualisation.

Prevent Activity

As part of their responsibilities to comply with the Prevent duty [2] , Scottish specified authorities must ensure IT policies and IT filtering solutions are in place which limit access to terrorist and/or extremist material. Schools, colleges and universities are expected to have policies in place relating to the use of IT and to use filtering as a means of restricting access to harmful content. In addition both Further and Higher Education institutions must ensure they have clear policies and procedures for students and staff working on sensitive or extremism-related research.

Scotland continues to benefit from the work of the UKG Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit who have responsibility for removing terrorist and/or violent extremist related illegal material from on-line platforms across the UK, with over 250,000 pieces of material removed since February 2010, with a current removal rate of around 2,000 per week. We continue to work with communities to develop a network of credible grass-roots community-led projects which can provide safe spaces (including online) where difficult issues can be debated and challenged and theological and/or geo-political guidance can be provided.

What we will do

1. The Scottish Government will work to ensure children and young people are supported to build their own resilience online.

Children and young people told us that the most important thing needed to stay safe online is the building of their own personal resilience. The Scottish Government will therefore work with organisations for children and young people to ensure that children and young people have appropriate opportunities to build their resilience online and are supported to do so.

2. Through their Digital Learning and Teaching Programme, Education Scotland will support local authorities in implementing the new Technologies Curriculum guidance, which has a specific focus on digital literacy.

Further to a commitment made in the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy, Education Scotland undertook a review of the Technologies Experiences and Outcomes at the end of 2016. Following a successful consultation with practitioners, academics and other interested parties, new Experiences and Outcomes have been developed. Under the heading of Digital Literacy, these new statements include specific outcomes and benchmarks related to internet safety and cyber resilience.

We want to ensure that all school across Scotland are aware of their responsibility to provide internet safety education for all pupils. Education Scotland will produce exemplification to support practitioners using the benchmarks and Experiences and Outcomes for planning learning in cyber resilience and internet safety.

3. Education Scotland will ensure inspectors are aware of the expectation to deliver education that encourages innovation, confidence and responsibility in the use of technologies and staying safe online.

How good is our school? ( HGIOS) (fourth edition) was published in August 2016 and highlights effective self-evaluation as the starting point for school improvement. It supports schools to effectively evaluate their own practice and is a key aspect of the Scottish approach to school improvement. Under 3.3 Increasing Creativity and Employability it states:

'Children and young people are innovative, confident and responsible in the use of technologies and staying safe online. They critically examine and make informed choices about the use of digital technology to enhance and personalise learning in school and where appropriate, beyond the school day. They anticipate and respond to new opportunities and threats caused by developments now and in the future.'

4. The Scottish Government and Education Scotland will work with the South West Grid for Learning to promote and update the 360 degree safe tool

Developed by South West Grid for Learning and funded in part by the Scottish Government, the 360 degree safe tool enables schools and organisations to self-evaluate against a detailed set of e-safety criteria. The tool provides advice, guidance and links to content that helps schools to improve all aspects of their e-safety provision.

5. Education Scotland will work with Digital Schools Awards Scotland to develop a link to relevant resources on internet safety for children and young people

The Digital Schools Award Programme is a free to join programme for all primary schools in Scotland. It encourages a whole-school approach to digital and supports them in embedding effective use of digital technology in the day to day life of their schools.

Structured around themes which mirror the objectives of our Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy, the programme provides a framework that enables schools to assess their progress in embedding digital. It provides advice, guidance and links to content that support schools in improving their digital offer, helping to ensure our children and young people get the best possible experience of technology in school.

6. The Scottish Government will consider what resources are available within youth work organisations on internet safety and whether more can be done to build on and amplify good practice, for consistency, with resources available across Scotland.

We will work with YouthLink Scotland, as the national agency for youth work, and Young Scot in the delivery of this action.

7. The Scottish Government will consider the findings of the Youth Commission in future policy development. Working with partners, the Scottish Government will promote the principles of the movement to inform citizens of the 5rights.

The 5Rights project identified a Youth Commission, consisting of 18 young people from across Scotland to develop informed insights, ideas, recommendations and solutions in relation to how Scotland can become a nation which realises and respects children and young people's digital rights. The Youth Commission will submit a finalised report in early 2017.

8. The Scottish Government will continue to engage with disabled people's organisations across Scotland to better understand the needs of disabled children and young people in the online world in order to ensure the most effective training, information and support is in place.

We will continue to engage with the Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group and other disability organisations to better understand the needs of disabled children and young people when using the internet and how we can best provide support.



Email: Jennifer Stenton

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top