Online Grooming - Child Sexual Exploitation

What is Online Grooming?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is where someone takes advantage of a child sexually for their own benefit.                                                                                      Child Sexual Exploitation Poster

Some people use technology to make contact with children and young people with the intention of “grooming” them. To groom someone is to prepare someone to do something sexual for the benefit of the person making contact.

Those who seek to groom children or young people might try to gain their trust by using a fake profile picture and fake personal details and by pretending to have similar interests as them.

People who try to groom children and young people want them to believe their lies so that they can get information about:

  • their age
  • where they live
  • who else might use the computer that they use or
  • who else has access to their mobile phone

If you believe you are a victim, or know someone who is a victim, please contact the Police on 101 or online via:

Below are tips and advice to both parents and children, including knowing the signs that CSE may be happening, or if you are a child who to turn to if you are a victim.

Advice to Parents

Below are tips and advice to both parents and children, including knowing the signs that CSE may be happening, or if you are a child who to turn to if you are a victim.

Could you recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation?

Our Know The Signs campaign details what to look out for. Some of the visible signs may be :

  • Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night.
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
  • Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for.
  • Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use.
  • Appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Being picked up or dropped off in cars by unknown adults.
  • A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends.
  • Spending excessive amount of time online and becoming increasingly secretive about time spent online.
  • Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending.
  • Sexual health problems.

Further Advice

Advice to Young People

  • Some people will use false accounts and fake photos to trick victims of online grooming. Read more with our Who R U Talking 2 campaign.
  • If you are worried about online grooming there are people who can help, who won’t blame or judge you – find out more and get help
  • People may not always be who they say they are online. Never accept ‘friend requests’ or give personal information to people you only know online.
  • Ensure your privacy settings on social media accounts are set appropriately, so only people you want to can see your profile.
  • Always keep your passwords and personal information private to stay safe online. Remember people might not be who they say they are. Read more with our Who R U Talking 2 campaign
  • If anyone asks you to do something online that you aren’t comfortable with, such as sending photos or on webcam, you should tell an adult you trust.

Useful Links

  1. Staying Safe Online
  2. Online Grooming
  3. Sexting
  4. Mobile Phone Safety
  5. Online Gaming
  6. Online Porn

Page last reviewed January 2020