Grooming Online — Spotting the Signs

Criminals can be callous and downright evil. A particularly harrowing story surfaced in the news recently about a young girl who was groomed online.

She was befriended by someone who she assumed was female also. This friend was particularly complimentary at first and commented on her good looks and said she looked pretty. She persuaded her into sending topless photos of herself on the premise of winning her a modelling contract. One thing led to another, and this girl eventually sent a topless selfie and immediately the conversation turned sour. Only then did she know something was wrong. The conversation turned from compliments to demands of further images. They threatened her and warned her that they would expose her if she didn’t do as she was told.

She felt utterly trapped. They held her to ransom, and things became progressively worse from there, eventually ending in physical child abuse. This poor girl was embarrassed and felt she had nowhere to turn. Her parents were unaware, and her story only surfaced when she was 22.

If you’re reading this article and your children are currently of an age where they are free to access the internet, or maybe they own a mobile device. They are not safe.

Agencies around the globe are now starting to compile data, and the sheer scale of child abuse online somewhat startling.

New data reveals that self-generated imagery now accounts for nearly a third of web pages featuring sexual images of children actioned by the Internet Watch Foundation.

More often than not, an unsuspecting child will be talked into sending selfies or sexting. Usually, this involves girls between 10 and 13 years of age, but young boys can fall victim too.

If you’re a parent, there are measures you can take and ways to spot if something sinister is lurking.

  1. The pattern of your child’s online activity might change; for instance, they may be spending more or less time on the internet.

  2. They may seem angry or upset immediately after using the computer or their mobile device.

  3. Your child may seem distant and secretive about who they are talking to online.

For practical advice on how to spot if your child is being subjected to cyberbullying, grooming or child abuse. Please visit:-

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