Online grooming

Online grooming is when someone builds a relationship with a young person online because they want to trick or pressure them into doing something that may hurt or harm them.

Questions you may have:

  • Who is at risk from online grooming? Open or Close

    Any young person and even some adults can be at risk from grooming, regardless of age, gender, race or location. Online grooming is wrong and never the fault of the victim.

  • How do groomers trick people? Open or Close

    Online groomers use many different methods. They may use fake accounts and photos or say they enjoy the same hobbies and interests as the young person they are grooming. Others may pretend to be modelling scouts, sports coaches, celebrities or influencers. However, not all groomers will choose to hide who they really are and some may try to build a connection or develop a ‘mentor’ type relationship based on their true identity.

  • How can I tell if someone I know is being groomed? Open or Close

    If you are worried that someone online is trying to groom you or someone you know, talk to an adult straight away. The following signs are things which you should look out for.

    Someone suggesting or pressuring you or another young person to:

    • meet up offline
    • share personal information about yourself or others
    • send images and videos of yourself
    • share sexual messages, images or videos
    • keep contact private or to keep secrets
    • not talk to friends or family
    • always be available and reply straight away to messages
  • What can I do if I’m worried about online grooming? Open or Close

    If someone online is making you or someone you know feel uncomfortable then tell an adult you trust like a parent, carer or teacher.

    You can also make a report to the police on the ThinkUKnow website by clicking on the ‘report abuse’ button. All reports are taken seriously, and they will contact you to advise you on the next steps and provide support.

  • What is CEOP? Open or Close

    CEOP stands for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command. They are part of the police who investigate and deal with cases of online grooming. Their Child Protection Advisors are fully trained to offer support and guidance to any young people who are worried about online grooming. You can find more information and contact CEOP directly on their website ThinkUKnow.

  • I heard on the news that online grooming increased during lockdown, should I be worried? (COVID-19) Open or Close

    There have been some reports that online grooming has increased during lockdown, but this isn’t because there are suddenly more groomers. When we spend more time online, there’s a higher chance of facing certain risks but you this doesn’t mean you need to worry – there’s lots you can do to protect yourself and your friends from online grooming, and the advice is the same as before the pandemic.

    Make sure you use privacy settings to protect your online accounts and if you ever feel under pressure or uncomfortable because of an online friend, then speak to an adult you know and trust straight away.

Top Tips

  1. Where possible, limit contact online to people you know and trust and use privacy settings to protect your personal accounts and content.
  2. If someone online is pressuring you or a friend, or making you feel uncomfortable, speak to an adult you trust straight away.
  3. If you or a friend are in contact with someone online who you do not know offline, do not share personal information such as where you live, go to school or photos of yourself
  4. If someone who you only know online asks to meet up with you or a friend, speak to an adult you trust straight away.
  5. Remember that you can report any suspected grooming to the police using the ‘report abuse’ button on the ThinkUKnow website.