Molly Russell Inquest – Advice for Professionals from the SWgFL

This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's Education Safeguarding Professional, Jatinder Matharu, on behalf of SWgFL for the attention of all professionals

The full inquest in relation to the death of Molly Russell concluded on the 30th September 2022.

Following the inquest, there may be a lot in the news over the coming weeks about the dangers of self-harm as well as suicide related content online.

It is really important to have regular conversations with students about online use and things they can do to stay safe as well as what support options are available. Below is some advice for professionals working with children

A Mindful Approach

  • While it is important to promote online safety to young audiences, it is safer to approach this with general messages about online safety, without referencing specific incidences.
  • If you are forwarded warnings relating to self-harm and suicide, warning others may seem like the smart thing to do. However, sending warnings can draw unwanted attention towards the content and the potential harm it can bring. Please think carefully about what you share, minimise the exposure and don’t give young people something to look for.

Have Open Conversations

  • We encourage parents and adults who work with young people to talk to them about all their online activity. Let them share what they’re playing or looking at, rather than asking them whether they have seen or engaged with specific harmful content online. This approach may draw their interest to it or mean they do not talk about other concerning online activities.
  • We encourage extreme caution on sharing online content with young people that may be distressing or upsetting. If young people express any concern or worries over content they have seen online, or posts or comments that friends or others have made, it is important to listen to them and offer support.
  • Providing information and signposting to sources of support for all young people at any time is important. It may also be useful to provide advice on how young people can support themselves and their friends. If you have concerns that someone is suicidal, useful information can be found on Samaritan’s website along with tips for discussing suicide safely online

Report Harmful Content Online

  • Stop the spread of harm by reporting self-harm and suicide content online. Social media sites and other platforms have direct reporting routes for this type of content and remember, you can visit Report Harmful Content to find out how to report harmful content online.
  • Talk about how to report content with students, age restrictions on different sites and why they exist.
  • Anyone over the age of 13 who has reported content and has a query or complaint about the response received, please make a report on Report Harmful Content. A practitioner will check submitted reports and industry responses against platform-specific reporting procedures and community standards in order to provide users with further advice on actions they can take.
  • Raise awareness of how to report in your wider school community by downloading the Report Harmful Content Reporting Button

Other useful resources