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National safeguarding week

Online exploitation and abuse of young people

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones.

Online abuse may be part of abuse that is taking place in the real world for example bullying or grooming. Or it may be that the abuse only happens online for example persuading children to take part in sexual activity online.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know, as well as from strangers.

Children can feel like there is no escape from online abuse – abusers can contact them at any time of the day or night, the abuse can come into safe places like their bedrooms, and images and videos can be stored and shared with other people.

Children and young people may experience Grooming, grooming includes:

  • Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or trafficking.
  • Children and young people can be groomed online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional.
  • Groomers may be male or female. They could be any age.
  • Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened

Children and young people may also experience Sexual abuse, Sexual exploitation or Emotional abuse. When sexual exploitation happens online, young people may be persuaded, or forced, to:

  • send or post sexually explicit images of themselves
  • take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smartphone
  • have sexual conversations by text or online
  • abusers may threaten to send images, video or copies of conversations to the young person’s friends and family unless they take part in other sexual activity
  • Images or videos may continue to be shared long after the sexual abuse has stopped.

If you have any concerns you can report them here.