When you’re in love it’s difficult to see the warning signs, but not everyone is as good as they seem. When you meet them online, this is even more true.
#LookSusTellUs - or Look Suspicious? Tell Us - is about getting you to be careful about who you trust, and showing you the warning signs of being exploited. It's our job to show you the way criminals can try to gain your trust - how they can exploit you.
Exploitation is when someone uses you to get something they need. Criminals can exploit young people and vulnerable people, for many reasons, including money and sex.
If you are ever suspicious of a friend, boy or girlfriend, talk to an adult you trust as soon as possible. If you are more than suspicious, please talk to us directly (or ask your trusted adult to).
But if you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, please call 999 immediately. Our priority is to ensure the safety of you and your family.
It is never your fault if you are being exploited. It can happen to anyone, anywhere.
How to behave online
The best way to protect yourself against being exploited is to be careful about how you act online. Try following these rules:
Know who you're talking to. Unless you can see the person - not a photo, 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 he/ she is.
Log out. As social media is 'always on', it's easy to be bombarded with messages. When this happens it's hard to think clearly. So log out, and give yourself space to breathe and think, or talk to someone you trust.
Be careful who you send photos of yourself to. Because you don’t always know who you’re talking to, you also don’t always know who you’re sending that selfie to. A criminal can pressure you to send a nude selfie or other indecent picture, or share sensitive information, which they can then use to force you into sexual or criminal activity.
Be careful with the information you post about yourself on your social media channels like TikTok or SnapChat. Criminals will use this information to get to know you and pretend to be a friend you can trust. Once they've 'befriended' you, they can 'groom' you - persuade you into maybe doing things that you don't want to do, sexually or criminally.
The general rule is - never do anything which makes you uncomfortable. If you aren’t sure, talk to someone you trust or contact a support organisation - here are some: