Contributor

This article was contributed by NCA-CEOP

NCA-CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency. As well as being a reporting mechanism, NCA-CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children, and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account.

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Child online safety during lockdown: where to report

Worried teenage girl with laptop

Image: New Africa/stock.adobe.com

As a parent, you are in the best position to notice if something isn’t quite right with your child. 

While most children only have positive experiences online, occasionally things can go wrong. And with children likely to be spending more time on the internet during lockdown, it is more important than ever for you and your child to know the best reporting and support routes, should either of you ever be worried about something online. 

Here is a breakdown of where to go for support. 

Reporting

CEOP is part of the National Crime Agency, a law enforcement agency. Children, and their parents, can make a report to CEOP if they are concerned about sexual abuse online. You or your child can do this by filling in a form on the CEOP website – www.ceop.police.uk

CEOP reporting is designed specifically for children, so that they always have somewhere to go if they are worried. The form is simple and short. 

Note that CEOP can only respond to concerns related to sexual abuse online. If you need help to support children with other issues online – for example online bullying – see the ‘Other support services’ section below. 

What do people report to CEOP? 

The types of things reported to CEOP in the past include: 

  • Someone online is talking to a child about sex and making them feel uncomfortable
  • Someone online is asking a child for naked / sexual pictures
  • Someone online is asking a child to do sexual things over camera 
  • Someone online is asking a child to meet up 
  • Someone online is blackmailing a child, for example by threatening to share images of them

When should I make a report to CEOP? 

The first thing to do is to let your child know about reporting to CEOP. Make sure they know that it is a service they can use if they are ever worried about sexual abuse online. 

Let them know that they can always talk to you in this situation, but that CEOP is there too. Most children only have positive experiences online, and will not need to ever report to CEOP. Nonetheless, it is reassuring for them to know that help is available should they ever need it.

CEOP is also there to help parents if they are concerned about their child. However, if you feel a child is in immediate danger, you must call the police on 999 straight away.

CEOP takes all reports seriously and will do everything it can to keep your child safe. In the majority of cases, when a child reports to CEOP, their parents/carers are informed.

As well as the reporting service, the CEOP Thinkuknow website has information and advice for parents and children. Take a look at the Parents website (www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents), then explore the children’s websites with your child. 

What happens when a report is made to CEOP? 

If you or your child do make a report to CEOP, it will be read by a Child Protection Advisor. A Child Protection Advisor is a specialist social worker who works at CEOP. They have helped lots of children and parents in similar situations. 

The Child Protection Advisor will contact the reporter and they will talk about how they will help. They will make a plan about how to make sure the child is safe. 

CEOP works with lots of other professionals whose jobs are also to make sure your child is safe. This includes social workers, teachers, local police officers, and other people who support children.  

Other reporting services

Advice and support services

  • Thinkuknow, the online safety education programme from the NCA-CEOP, has released a set of simple online safety home activities during school closures. Each fortnight, new activities are released for parents to complete with children and young people between the ages of four and 16. The latest packs explore the theme of image-sharing and will help you to keep up a positive, age-appropriate and supportive conversation about online safety in your home. Video guides, provided alongside the newest activity packs, explore the positives and the risks of sharing images online and offer practical advice for parents and carers of primary and secondary-aged children on what they can do to reduce the risks and how they can seek help if they’re worried about an image that has been shared.
  • Childline is a confidential 24/7 counselling service run by the NSPCC for all children up to the age of 19. Children can speak to a trained counsellor on the phone or online about any issue that they are going through –  https://www.childline.org.uk/ 
  • The Mix is another confidential helpline and support service for young people under the age of 25. The Mix specialises in topics such as sex and relationships, homelessness, drugs, mental health and finding a job. Get more information at https://www.themix.org.uk/ 
  • Stonewall is a charity that provides information and support for LGBT communities. You and your child can find a rage of resources, information and advice on topics including coming out, discrimination and hate crime at https://www.stonewall.org.uk/ 
  • Ditch The Label is an anti-bullying charity. Children and young people aged 12-25 can talk to a digital mentor or ask a question via their community section. Young people can get information and advice about bullying, or anything else they have on their mind such as body image, mental health or sexuality, at https://www.ditchthelabel.org/
  • Samaritans is a charity that provides support to anyone in emotional distress or struggling to cope. The Samaritans’ helpline phone number to call is 116123, and you can find out more at https://www.samaritans.org/

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