Q & A

  • My friend wants to meet up with someone they met online but I don’t think they should – what should I tell them to do?

    You sound like a very supportive friend! You could suggest to your friend that you both join a club or go to a young people's event together where you will have the opportunity to meet other young people with similar interests.

    It they still really want to meet their online friend advise them to follow these common sense rules:

    - Always meet and stay in a busy public place.

    - Do take a trusted, responsible adult with you, not a friend. If the person you’re meeting with isn’t being honest taking a friend will put you both at risk.

    - Make sure a friend or family member knows who you are meeting, where you are going and when you’ll be back.

    - Don’t accept a lift from the person you’re meeting.

    - Stay sober.

    - Take your mobile phone, keep it switched on and topped up with credit.

    - Your personal belongings can be stolen, don’t leave them unattended.

    If you’re worried about your friend's safety or think they are in danger you should call 999.

    Some advice on talking to your friend about why you're concerned is available here.

  • I’ve been talking to someone online for months – how do I know if they are who they say they are without meeting up with them?

    If you or your friends have never met them in real life then it’s impossible to know for sure. The internet makes it very easy for people to lie about their identity or even pretend to be someone else. Although you can do Google searches on someone to see what you can find, It’s not unheard of for people to set up fake accounts on behalf of someone else, even someone you think you know – think how many fake celebrity profiles are on Twitter!

    Even if you’ve seen pictures of your online friend or chatted with them via webcam you can’t be sure they’re being honest with you about who they are. Pictures can easily be copied, edited and passed off as somebody else’s. What’s more it’s very easy for webcam feeds to be recorded and faked. When you’re chatting to someone via webcam what you’re seeing could be pre-recorded footage of someone else!

    You should always take care not to reveal too much information that could lead someone to find out personal things about you, your family and your friends especially if you live in a small town.

    If you decide you do want to meet with someone, you should follow these common sense rules:

    - Always meet and stay in a busy public place.

    - Do take a trusted, responsible adult with you, not a friend. If the person you’re meeting with isn’t being honest taking a friend will put you both at risk.

    - Make sure a friend or family member knows who you are meeting, where you are going and when you’ll be back.

    - Don’t accept a lift from the person you’re meeting.

    - Stay sober.

    - Take your mobile phone, keep it switched on and topped up with credit.

    - Your personal belongings can be stolen, don’t leave them unattended.

    If you’re worried about your safety or think you are in danger you should call 999.

    Do you really know who you're talking to online? Find out more here.

  • What does a ‘paedo’ look like?

    You may have heard the term ‘paedo’ or ‘paedophile’ before. It means an adult who sexually abuses children or young people.

    Some adults want to have sex with children rather than adults and target children and young people to pressure, force or trick them in to sexual activity.

    People that do this can be men or women, young or old, the same sex as you or the opposite sex, and from any cultural background. There isn’t a particular ‘look’ that makes people that do this easy to spot. It is, however, important to know the signs to look out for is someone is trying to trick you into sexual activity. Find out about the signs and behaviours that someone might be trying to hurt you or use you and how to get help here.

  • Someone I know online keeps asking me to send them naked images, are they just being nice to me to take advantage or use me?

    You should never feel forced into sending or sharing anything that you don’t feel comfortable with. Some people try to make others feel special by pretending to be their friend and saying nice things to them in order to build trust and to share photos. They may then ask you to send them more photos and threaten to send the photo to your friends or family if you don’t do as they say. It’s safest to only share photos that you wouldn’t mind your parents or carers and your friends seeing. Also, remember sharing naked images of somebody under 18 is illegal, even if it is a picture you have taken of yourself.

    Find out more about how to stay in control of the pictures and videos you share here.

  • People ask me for topless pics everytime I go on a chatroom – they can’t all be paedos can they?

    Well it’s definitely not normal behaviour! You wouldn’t walk into a room of people you’ve not met and think it was fine to ask a stranger for a naked picture. If the site is moderated it’s a good idea to report the users asking you for these pictures to the moderator and to block them.

    Ask yourself why someone would want you to send these pictures? What can someone do with them once they’ve been sent? How could they use these pictures to take advantage of you?

    If you’re worried about things you’ve already sent online tell an adult you trust so they can help. You can report to CEOP if someone’s trying to make you do anything you’re not comfortable with online.