People online can easily hide who they really are and online groomers are really good at lying. Which means it can be difficult to know if someone is genuinely an online friend.
Don’t give out your personal information such as your address or phone number.
If anything you read or see online worries you, tell someone about it.
Never arrange to meet someone in person that you have met online.
Don’t become online ‘friends’ with someone you don’t know.
Don’t open emails or attachments from people you don’t know.
Don’t send pictures of yourself to anyone, especially indecent ones.
It can be difficult to understand if abuse is taking place, but some warning signs to watch out for can include:
- Buying the young person presents, a new phone or clothes or giving the young person money to buy things.
- Offering drugs and alcohol to the young person.
- Sending lots of messages, either by text or email.
- Sending sexual images to the young person.
- Persuading or blackmailing the young person into sending explicit images of themselves.
- They may try to isolate the young person from family and friends.
- They may ask for sexual favours in return for gifts/money.
- When they have gained the young person’s trust and affection, they may change how they act around them, becoming more controlling or violent.
It’s important to trust your instinct and if you feel that something is wrong in a relationship you have with someone, if you feel frightened, pressured, unsafe, threatened or trapped, then you must speak to someone you trust, such as a parent or carer and tell them how you feel.
There are a lot of organisations and people who can give young people the advice, support and help needed to protect them.