The internet can be a fantastic place for children and young people to connect with their friends; discover new things and be creative. However, 'friends' made online may not be who they say they are. This is a difficult concept for children to understand.
What is grooming?
Online grooming is the process by which an adult with an inappropriate sexual interest in children will approach a child online, with the intention of developing a relationship with that child, to be able to meet them in person and intentionally cause harm. An alternative intention may be to coerce the child into taking sexually explcit photos or videos and to send these to the adult. For more information and age appropriate resources for children relating to online grooming, visit Thinkuknow.
What should I do if I have concerns?
If you are at all concerned that a child in your care has been contacted by an adult online, it is imperative to tell someone straight away. Ensure that you are familiar with reporting procedures in your workplace and that confidentiality is not promised to the child in question. Report immediately to the designated person, for example the Designated Safeguarding Lead, so that the correct steps are taken from the outset. Ensure that the child's own words are used and are not changed in any way. The child or young person in question may want to accompany you when you make your report, to be part of the process.
Reports can be made to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and further information can be found at Virtual Global Taskforce. Child sexual abuse content found online can also be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
How can I educate young people about this?
Use the following resources to help you educate young people about how adults can groom online, the risk of online contact and who to report to if it happens: