Online Grooming - Information for parents

Children can be groomed online. It is important that you know what online grooming is and the signs that may indicate your child is being exploited on digital platforms.

What is online grooming?

Online grooming refers to the deliberate actions taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child with the intent of later facilitating sexual contact. Sexually explicit messages, images and videos may be exchanged and the offender may entice the child by sending them gifts or money.

This can take place in chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites and email.

Offenders will contact dozens of young people, communication will quickly become sexually explicit and any positive response will be seized on. The grooming process can take a matter of hours or years.

What are the signs my child is being groomed online?

The majority of children who are online are not being abused and never will be. The following activities could be perfectly innocent, but it is worth being alert to potential signs:

Changes in your child’s behaviour may also act as indicators and these can include:

There are some steps you can take to protect your child from being groomed online and places you can go for more information.

Can I restrict what access my child has online?

The Think U Know website has a really useful guide which explains what to do. The best way to ensure your child is safe is to talk about it together, tell them your concerns and ask your child to show you what they do online to reassure you.

I’m worried my child has formed a friendship online with someone I don’t feel comfortable with.

If you've spoken to your child and you're still worried then you could try speaking to one of their friends, teachers or someone who knows who your child is speaking to. You might find it helpful to show your child the Think U Know site which explains the dangers of sharing personal details online or the risks involved in meeting up with someone they have met online.

I am worried about the amount of time my child spends on social networking sites. What can I do?

Most young people use social networking sites as a quick, easy and cheap way of communicating with each other. As long as your child is careful about the information they share online the risks to their own safety are greatly reduced. Ensure you understand how these sites work and how to keep yourself and your child secure.

If you have any concerns please speak to the police or Children's Social Care

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