Information for young people
We hope that by sharing the ways criminals could try to gain your trust we are helping you to spot the signs of exploitation so you can talk to a trusted adult as soon as possible
Online exploitation can affect anyone, of any gender, from any community. If you are ever approached by someone who wants to exploit you in any way, it is never your fault
Please remember – if you are in immediate danger you should always contact the police
What are the risks online?
You never know who you’re talking to
You don’t always know who you are talking to online. Unless you can see the person (not just a still image of them), hear them and you know them in real life, it’s difficult to be sure that the person you are messaging is really who you think they are
Because social media is “always on” you can be constantly bombarded with messages
This pressure can then be used as a way to watch, coerce and control what you do
Log out – give yourself space to breathe and think. If you are worried – talk to someone you trust. There are more links to support on this page
Because you don’t always know who you’re talking to you also don’t always know who you’re sending that selfie to
Sometimes a criminal will pressure you to send a nude selfie or other indecent picture or share sensitive information which they will then use to force you into sexual or criminal activity
Remember you should never do anything which makes you uncomfortable. If you aren’t sure talk to someone you trust or contact one of the support organisations listed on this page
Criminals will also use any information – including pictures – you share about yourself publicly to get to know you and pretend to a friend you can trust
Once they “befriend” you, they can groom and manipulate you into sexual or criminal activity. Again you should never feel pressured into something you don’t want to do. If you are worried – talk to someone
Information for parents
What can I do to help protect my child?
There are things you can do to help protect your children from online exploitation.
- Check games content and features (Is it appropriate? Will they have online access?)
- Remember to use privacy and parental controls
- Turn location settings off in mobile apps
- Make an agreement with your child about time online and stick to it.
What signs should I look out for that my child could be being exploited?
If you are a parent or carer the following might indicate that a child needs help:
- Talking about older/new friends they’ve met online.
- Talking about gifts/money they’ve received online
- Becoming withdrawn and secretive
- Having a new phone or more than one phone
- Receiving a large number of calls or messages
- Worried about being away from their phone
These are only some of the possible signs and ways you can help. The Children’s Society offer more information on risks, staying safe and spotting the signs.
Directory of support and resources for young people and their parents/carers
CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command) is the specialist team from the National Crime Agency and where you can make reports of online exploitation.
The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society have published advice about keeping children safe online as well as information about online and offline signs of exploitation.
The NSPCC has a section devoted to online safety including advice for parents on setting up parental controls and advice on how to have a conversation about online safety with your child. It covers different kinds of online channels and the risks associated with each.
They have also launched a new tool to remove nude images shared online.
You can also contact them by telephone. Children and young people can contact Childline: 0800 1111 (or visit Childline.org.uk) and parents/carers can call: 0808 800 5000
NSPCC and O2 - Net Aware
This a hugely useful site as it lists social media networks, apps and games and gives information on the risks associated with each one as well as top tips for staying safe (including privacy settings)
The Parent Info site has a number of different articles covering online safety as well as wellness, mental health and building healthy relationships. Help and advice for families in a digital world
PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation
They have a wealth of resources to support parents and carers in having those difficult conversations with children and young people. They also offer advice for parents/carers if they believe their child has sent a nude selfie by text or uploaded one to a website or social media (sextortion); advice for parents/carers about children and online gaming, and advice for parents/carers about online grooming
Remember: if you’re worried that a child or young person is at immediate risk of harm, you should call the police