The internet is a great place for young people, but they may come across people online who aren’t who they say they are. It’s important to have an awareness of the potential risks of grooming – the term used for befriending children in order to take advantage of them for sexual purposes.
If you discover that a young person has been / is being groomed, it can be difficult to know what to do. This article provides advice from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) and details of organisations that can help.
If the young person has disclosed themselves to you, let them tell their story and don’t be shocked by what they tell you. Give them the space they need to share everything they want to.
Make the call
If you are concerned a young person is in immediate danger, call 999.
Make a report
If you are worried about a young person, you can make a report with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP) online. This National Crime Agency is tasked with keeping children safe from sexual abuse and sexual grooming online. Reports can be made by the young person, or by concerned friends, parents, adults or professionals.
Online Support for young people, parents, carers and professionals
The following websites have lots of useful information about addressing grooming concerns:
- The UK Safer Internet Centre – has a range of advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe and have a positive online experience
- CEOP’s thinkuknow.co.uk - contains lots of useful advice for parents and teachers, as well as information and activities for children and young people
- Internet Matters - specifically for parents, this provides lots of useful resources to help keep children safe online
Talk to someone
If you need support, there are people you can talk to:
- Young people who don’t know where to turn for help can contact The Mix Helpline for further advice and support. Depending on their age, they may prefer to talk to someone from Childline
- Parents and carers can contact the NSPCC Helpline or Young Minds Parent’s Helpline for further advice and support
- The Professionals Online Safety Helpline is available to support any member of the children’s workforce with online issues.