Need help?

"A child has come to me with an online safety concern... what now?"

If you only do three things:

  1. Stay calm, be supportive and reassure them they've done the right thing in coming to you
  2. Follow your school or setting's normal safeguarding procedures
  3. If you're still concerned, contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline

Responding to an online safety related disclosure:

If a child in your care discloses something to you, related to the internet and the use of technology, then the same reporting procedures used for any safeguarding incident offline can and should be followed in a workplace environment. 

  1. If you are worried about a young person for any reason then it is important to tell someone straight away. 
  2. Ensure that you are familiar with reporting procedures in your setting and that confidentiality is not promised to the child in question. 
  3. Report immediately to the designated person, for example the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), so that the correct steps are taken from the start.
  4. Listen carefully to the child, giving them your full attention. When reporting the disclosure ensure that the child's own words are used and are not changed in any way. 
  5. The child or young person in question may want to accompany you when you make your report, to be part of the process.

The NSPCC have produced a handy poster and animation to help adults respond to children disclosing abuse.

Reporting online concerns or risks:

  • Grooming or other illegal contact Open or Close

    If you want to report someone who is behaving suspiciously online towards a child, you should in an emergency contact the emergency services by calling 999, or otherwise make a report to the National Crime Agency's CEOP Command (formerly the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre).

  • Criminal content online (including child sexual abuse images) Open or Close

    If you encounter child sexual abuse content online, you should report this to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

    Young people under 18 can report nude images or videos of themselves which have been shared online to Childline

    Criminal content in the UK includes child sexual abuse images, criminally obscene adult content as well as non-photographic child sexual abuse images.

  • Online Hate Speech Open or Close

    Online content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation should now be reported to True Vision, which tackles all forms of hate crime, including those on the grounds of disability and transgender identity. True Vision will give you information on content which indicates hatred and how to report it.  

  • Media content inappropriate for children Open or Close

    If you want to make a complaint about an advert, television or radio programme, film, newspaper, magazine, video game or other type of content that you think it unsuitable for children to see or hear, you can find out more from Ofcom

    If you want to make a complaint about an online advertisement then you can also report this to The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

    If you want to report the content* of an online game then you can also report this to The Video Standards Council (VSC).

    * Please note: if you wish to report the behaviour of another player then this should be done through the game's own reporting tools.

  • Terrorism related content Open or Close

    Report terrorism related content to the police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit.

  • Reporting to services (e.g. a social media service or gaming platform) Open or Close

    Many popular online services also have some really useful help and advice areas, as well as ways to report content that is not allowed on the site (eg cyberbullying or naked photos). Find out how to report to specific services on our dedicated page.

    You can also visit the Report Harmful Content (RHC) online tool for more information and an opportunity to follow-up on reports which received no response or an inadequate response. RHC is run by our partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre.