Social media policy
Congregations should only use workers or volunteers who have been safely recruited (including PVG Scheme or DBS membership where appropriate) and are deemed to have the appropriate skills for the task they are being asked to undertake.
Transparency/openness: Tell others what it is you want to communicate and why.
Keeping people safe: The worker (paid and volunteers) and the child/adults at risk or service users.
Line management arrangements must be clear and understood by all. Line managers have an important role to play in ensuring that safeguarding advice is implemented.
Text and any other media posted should be subject to an acceptable use policy.
Strive to maintain good and open relationships with parents and carers regarding communication with them, their children and/or protected adult relative.
Consent: Seek child and parental/carer consent for the use of internet technology. Receive informed consent from all involved (or their parents/carers) if their words or images are to be transmitted and made public or shared with a selected group of people. Refer to the Photography and Video Guidelines and the SG19 Media Consent Form.
Privacy: Respect for individuals' personal information. Do not share personal information or seek personal information other than that which is appropriate to your role.
Separate the private (home) from the professional (paid or voluntary work). Explicitly maintain boundaries.
Be circumspect in your communications with children and/or protected adults to avoid any possible misinterpretation of your motives or any behaviour which could be construed as grooming.
If children want you to have their mobile phone numbers, email addresses or similar and to communicate with them this way, make sure that their parents know and have agreed and that everyone is clear about GDPR requirements. Please refer to the data protection advice on the Law Circulars section of the Church of Scotland website
All social media interaction between workers, paid or voluntary, and children under 18 should be limited to monitored/administrated groups. Only contact children for reasons related to the work of the Church.
Email should only be used to communicate specific information, e.g., events etc.
Email/internet communication with children or protected adults should take place during working hours. Any communication made outside working hours should be agreed with your line manager.
Maintain a log and dated history of all electronic contact with individuals or groups, including email, messaging and texting. Any private messages should be recorded for safeguarding purposes.
Where possible, only use equipment provided by the Church to communicate with children and protected adults.
Be clear and explicit about information that you need to share with others. Be explicit about the limits of confidentiality and that disclosure of harm and abuse must be passed on to the Safeguarding Service and perhaps others to keep them safe. Otherwise, respect a child and protected adult's right to confidentiality.
Any safeguarding concerns or allegations arising from social media should be referred on to the congregation's Safeguarding Coordinator and/or the Safeguarding Service.
Ensure your church's domain name and logo appears with every Internet post made by a church computer user. Any user may thus be viewed as a representative of your church while conducting business on the Internet.
All users of social media must be above the minimum age limit, e.g., 13 years for Facebook. Please ensure that if you are using other interactive methods, e.g., Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams etc. that you abide by the Terms and Conditions for end users and that children, young people and/or parents/carers also know what these are, agree with them, and abide by the acceptable user policy. They should be explicitly aware of how these applications will make use of their personal data and how you will also secure their personal data in line with GDPR requirements.
Workers should ensure that privacy settings are of the highest levels of security and that recording is disabled in all cases.
Workers should ensure that video conference notification emails are checked to verify the sender in all cases.
It is also recommended that web versions are used as far as possible. Only existing installed apps should be used. For example, Zoom wants to install software onto the user device and there is a concern this may cause problems. If the user is new to Zoom, they should use the web/online option and not install software to their own device unless absolutely confident that it is genuine.
Use of Skype and any other web camera or visual communication via the internet is generally not advised. However, if this is the only or best means of communication, workers should refrain from using such methods on a one-to-one basis. In addition, please refer to the recommended adult to child ratio as set out in Managing and Reducing Risk.
Skype or other web cameras can be used for conference calls and are considered appropriate for a project or group to use in a group environment for project purposes where there are clear aims and objectives for its use
All social media groups should provide links to statutory authorities such as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) to enable children to report online abuse