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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Supporting your child with reporting unwanted content online

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You may already have regular conversations with your child about what they do when they go online. Perhaps you have even agreed upon suitable websites for them to explore. But, as it is not possible to control all the content that is posted online, it is important that your child feels confident about what to do if they come across harmful content online — or something they (or you) think could be illegal. 

One of the first steps is to report what has happened. Here is some advice from NCA-CEOP — the Child Protection Command of the National Crime Agency — on where and when to report content and how your child can seek support online.

What do people report to CEOP? 

The reporting process for NCA-CEOP is designed specifically for children, so that they always have somewhere to go if they are worried. You and your child can make a report to CEOP if you are concerned about sexual abuse online. This can be done quickly by filling in a form on the CEOP website.

CEOP only deal with sexual abuse online, they do not deal with other types of abuse such as cyberbullying. Have a look at the ‘Other reporting services’ section below for details on reporting other types of content. 

The types of things reported to CEOP 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 you make a report to CEOP? 

Thankfully, most children won’t ever need to report to CEOP and will hopefully have positive experiences online. Nonetheless, it is reassuring for them to know that help is available should they ever need it. Make sure your child knows that you will support them if there is anything they come across online that worries them or that they think may be illegal. Make sure they know that CEOP’s reporting service is available to them and that all reports are taken seriously. In the majority of cases, when a child reports to CEOP, their parents or carers are also informed.

CEOP has support for parents that have any concerns related to sexual abuse online. However, if you think a child could be in immediate danger, do call the police on 999.

The CEOP Thinkuknow website has further information and advice for parents and children.

What happens when a report is made to CEOP? 

Reports are read by a Child Protection Advisor — a specialist social worker at CEOP. They will have helped lots of children and parents in similar situations. 

The Child Protection Advisor will contact the reporter to talk about how they will help. They will make a plan about how to ensure your child is safe. CEOP work with lots of other professionals to make sure your child is safe, this includes local police agencies and social care. 

Other reporting services

Here are some places you and your child can make a report online, depending on the type of content that they have come across:

  • Any criminal images of children online, for example sexual/naked photos, should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation. Reporting to the IWF is confidential and can be done anonymously.
  • You can report directly to social media platforms if you come across harmful content. They will remove content if it violates their terms or standards, for example hateful content. Check the platform's own terms and conditions and be prepared to quote them when you contact them to show how these may have been violated. Thinkuknow provides further advice on reporting to social media sites here.
  • You can also make a report via Report Harmful Content – provided by UK Safer Internet Centre and Operated by South West Grid for Learning. This has been designed to assist everyone in reporting harmful content online. The report button will guide you through the reporting process and offer appropriate advice. 
  • You can report child abuse or any concerns you have about a child, anonymously if you wish, to the NSPCC Helpline.
  • The Information Commissioner’s website offers advice on making complaints about the misuse of personal information. For example, if you receive nuisance calls or unwanted marketing materials. You can read more about protecting your child’s personal information online, here
  • True Vision is a police-funded site that provides information about hate crime. You can report all forms of hate crime there (eg: homophobic, transphobic, race, religious).

Advice and Support Services

Reporting is an important part of the process but your child may also need support if they are worried or upset about what they have seen. Here are a few places they can seek support:

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.

The Mix is another confidential helpline and multi-channel support service for young people under the age of 25. This Mix is a great point of contact for any young person seeking help, they specialise in topics such as sex and relationships, homelessness, drugs, mental health and finding a job. 

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 many topics including coming out, discrimination and hate crime. 

Samaritans is a charity that provides support to anyone in emotional distress or struggling to cope through their telephone helpline. 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: September 2020


The new RSE/RSHE curriculum

The new RSE (for primary) and RSHE (secondary) curriculum is compulsory from September 2020. However due to the impact of COVID-19, schools have been given additional time to implement it if they need it. They must begin teaching by April 2021. Parent Info will be running a series of articles over the next year exploring the ‘Online Relationships’ aspect of the new primary curriculum and the ‘Online and media’ aspect of the secondary curriculum. This article will help parents of secondary-aged children understand how they can support the learning from the statutory curriculum, specifically that children ‘Know where to get support to report harmful content online’.

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