Talking online is a very useful and easy way to stay connected with your friends. However, it is important to recognise that there are many dangers present in talking to people that you do not know or have not met in real life.
What is grooming?
Online grooming is when someone (the ‘groomer’) uses the internet to make friends with you and gain your trust. The ‘groomer’ will then trick or pressure you into doing something sexual, such as sending a naked photo or having a conversation of a sexual nature.
Who might be a groomer?
A ‘groomer’ can be anyone.
A ‘groomer’ might not be telling you the truth about who they really are. For example, an adult might set-up a fake profile on Facebook and pretend to be a young person. When people are online, they can hide who they really are.
How do I know if I am talking to a groomer?
If any of the following things are happening, it may be that you are talking to a groomer:
- You do not know or have not met the person you are talking to
- You are being asked to send material of a sexual nature
- You are being asked to keep your conversation a secret
- You are being sent a lot of messages
- You are being made to feel guilty
- You are being asked to meet up in person
- You are being asked very personal information, especially at an early stage in the conversation.
Who can I talk to for help?
Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.
Talk to an adult that you trust such as your parent or a counsellor at school.
You can also talk anonymously to Childline – 0800 1111.
If there is no immediate danger, either you or your parents can report the behaviour to the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre.