CHILDLINE ADVICE: Everyone has a right to be the person that they want to be
As we celebrate Pride Month it is important to recognise the contribution of the internet.
It affords us the opportunity to still come together, albeit virtually, to mark this month with our celebrations despite some events having to be cancelled, understandably, due to the pandemic. The internet also allows children, including those who identify as LGBQT+, to connect and reach out for support throughout the year. The Childline Art Box and moderated message boards, for example, have been invaluable for so many young people, wishing to express their feelings in a creative way or speak out to help themselves make sense of things.
The internet can provide a space where children can find a sense of belonging and community, and a space where they can explore their own identity. But unfortunately, as we know all too well at Childline, it can also be a place where young people are exposed to bullying or inappropriate content. We want all children to be able to have a safe and positive experience when they go online, but we know that some children are more at risk of having a negative experience than others.
Children and young people may share photos or other content, make friends with similar interests, look for and give support, and find a sense of community, or belonging. However, they also might see or experience abusive comments or language, bullying or be asked to share personal photos. As parents and carers, it is important to remain calm and actively listen when children talk about their experiences online, good or bad. Reassure your child that you are on their side and here to support them, and that they can talk to you about things online as well as offline. There is lots more advice on Net Aware, our NSPCC co-created website with O2, on how to help our children stay safe in their online worlds.
We know at Childline how positive and empowering it can be to celebrate Pride Month. Everyone has the right to be who they are, although at times it can take confidence and courage to be our authentic selves. Feeling supported is so important, so please know that our Childline counsellors are always here to talk to too.