If you are running Alpha or Alpha for Youth online, please take all the necessary steps to ensure you as the church or ministry are aware of safety issues and competent to deal with them.

Abuse of young people often starts with electronic communication before luring them into a face-to-face meeting. An increasing number of Alphas are being run online, and on platforms that are difficult to monitor. We encourage hosts to work in trusted pairs with support from helpers.

Use safety measures such as password protecting your meetings, using secure Wifi, being conscious of what can be seen on your video screens, and please ensure that sessions are never recorded.

Cyber bullying and online grooming are serious problems that hosts and helpers can help avoid.

Maintain a Safe Environment

We recommend:
  • Think before you post. Once the information is online, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

  • When signing off messages, use a friendly but not over-familiar or personal tone.

  • Keep video calls, texting and messaging to appropriate times of day.

  • Alpha hosts should use a leadership style that suits the needs of the whole group. Model good practice in your own online behaviour.

  • Encourage safe and healthy use of social media, and have appropriate privacy settings.

  • Communicate clearly and unambiguously, and use social media for information such as group reminders, rather than conversation.

  • Behave with the same respect in your online communication as you would in person.

  • Share only what you feel comfortable to share. Don’t be pressured into doing or sharing anything you do not to. If you feel uncomfortable about any communication or behaviour, online or offline, contact the lead person at your church, school or organisation.

Please don’t:
  • Promise confidentiality you can’t guarantee.

  • Allow your Alpha courses to be recorded.

  • Foster exclusivity in communications, either wittingly or unwittingly.

  • Video call alone with a young or vulnerable person.

  • Write anything that you wouldn’t be happy for others to read.

  • Share contact details without permission.

  • Add people who are not in your direct pastoral remit – keep social media contact to those within the Alpha group.

  • Post photos of people without asking them first.

  • Post photos of young people without parental permission.

  • Tag people, unless they’ve given you permission. 

  • Get into deep and meaningful chats online or by text – keep online chats to a minimum and arrange a catch-up.

  • Alpha hosts should not follow young people back on Snapchat, private message them, or share their story personally with young people.

Areas of Concern and Actions to Take

Matters for concern may include:
  • What has been said by a person suggests they are in danger or at risk. You need to take immediate action; see “What to do” below.

  • The content of messages or emails suggest some form of abuse. You need to report your concerns as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours.

  • You are concerned by the mental well-being of a person. Again, act quickly.

  • The content of what a person has said online or by text seems inappropriate.

  • Someone has shared inappropriate images.

  • A person has become too dependent on you through frequent and extended online, text or face-to-face contact.

  • A young person is hiding their emails or texts, being contacted by unknown adults, or receiving gifts from people they don’t know. All could be an indication of online grooming.

What to do:
  • DO NOT close down the conversation. This could erase evidence. Screen shot where possible, and save any conversations or copy and paste into a document, including dates.

  • Inform your church leader, Alpha course leader or the person in charge of the protection of vulnerable people as soon as possible.

  • If you believe a person to be in danger, call the appropriate emergency number.

Skip to content