Safer Net is an ARC-led network of people concerned about hate and mate crime committed using social media.

SaferNet links people with learning disabilities, families, professionals, voluntary and statutory sector agencies, specialist services, criminal justice agencies and others. Safer Net helps people to share resources, information and advice via an e-network. A blog is also run by a network member with useful resources and links. Click here to visit the blog.

A website (Safernet.org.uk) is set to launch at the end of this summer. It is being developed to help people with learning disabilities, their family carers and support staff be safer on the internet, bringing together a network of like-minded people, useful resources, advice and links to facilitate the dissemination of practical information and safe practices.

Successful launch of the website will mark the culmination of many months work by a network of volunteers from across the nation countries, including individuals from Respond, FPLD, WECIL, The University of South Wales, the Association for Real Change and many more.

The current blog and forthcoming Safernet website mark a concerted response to the worrying body of evidence (both anecdotal and gathered from a number of Hate and Mate Crime Projects) that found the incidence of online abuse against people with a learning disability was extremely widespread and a matter of growing concern. Online abuse, including that over social networks, can be particularly pernicious because of  the speed at which information can be circulated.

Rod Landman, co-ordinator of the network and part-time Safety Net Project Officer for the Association for Real Change in the South West, had this to say:

“Recent experience from the Safety Net project suggests that most hate crime and bullying takes place via social media. In addition to this the project has collected a number of case studies in which people with learning disabilities have been befriended on line and then either sexually or financially exploited. There is a disturbing international element to this as it’s quite possible for people to be abused in this way from outside the country. Sadly, even though there are many positive aspects of social media for people with learning disabilities, it can open them to a world of abuse.”

In order for the website to better reach and serve the needs of vulnerable people online the network has asked for help in its development, and are looking for respondents to volunteer their time in answering a number questions about the nature of the site (below). These should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete.

Please could all responses be emailed directly to Louise Wallis, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Respond.
Louise.Wallis@respond.org.uk

Following the launch of the website the network hope to continue their work with plans to hold a conference at the University of South Wales in Summer 2014.

Questions:
What do you see as the primary goals of the Safer Net website?
What do you see as the main functions of the website?
How will you use the website?
What issues do you think we should avoid?
What role should imagery play in the website?