Essential advice on protecting children and young people from online grooming
Most people your child will chat with online will be other children. But there are adults out there who take advantage of the anonymity the internet offers to pretend to be young people in order to form abusive relationships with children.
They will flatter the young person they’re trying to befriend and attempt to gain their confidence. They might pretend to be a boy or girl around their age.
Once friendship is established, they’ll try to convince the young person that it’s OK to talk to them about sex. They may then ask them to send naked pictures (sometimes referred to as ‘nudes’ or ‘nude selfies’) or to take off their clothes on webcam.
Once they have an image or video of the child, they can then use it to blackmail them into further sexual activity online, for money, or even to meet in the real world. They will persuade the young person that doing what they tell them is better than being found out.
Staying safe when chatting online
Start a conversation with your child about the dangers of meeting adults posing as children online. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, a good way in is to say you’ve read a story about this happening and ask them if they know if any of their friends have experienced anything similar.
Suggest they read CEOP’s advice on staying safe on webcams. It’s aimed at young people themselves and full of useful information on how to spot if they’re being groomed or exploited online. You can find it here.
What you can do if you think your child has been groomed
If a young person you know tells you they think they’ve been approached by an adult online who tried to force them to share sexual images, take part in sexual activity, or just made them feel uncomfortable in a way they can't quite explain:
- Listen to what they say, allowing them time to explain in their own words what’s happened.
- Reassure them that they can say anything to you. Encourage them to write it down, or even text you, if they find it hard to say it out loud.
If you’re concerned they may have been a victim of abuse or are being groomed online, contact CEOP using the ‘Report Abuse’ button here.
Let them know it’s not their fault, that they have done nothing wrong, and that nobody will think any the worse of them for what’s happened.
- Read our full article on what to do if you discover your child has been sexually abused. This covers offline abuse, as well as abuse online.
Worried your child is at risk?
If you think your child has been the victim of inappropriate contact online, talk to CEOP immediately.
Visit CEOP site
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: March 2015
Updated: May 2018