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Speaking to an adult

If something has happened online that you’re worried about, it’s best to talk to an adult who can help you. This can feel difficult, but it’s likely you’ll feel better after you’ve had the conversation.

If someone is pressuring or blackmailing you, they might say that things will get worse if you tell someone. This isn’t true - speaking to an adult can help to make it stop.

Knowing who to talk to

There are lots of adults you can talk to about something that has happened. It’s important this is someone who you trust. Choose someone who will act in your best interests and try to keep you safe.

Avoid talking to people you only know online. Online friends can be kind and supportive, but there’s a chance that they’re not who they said they are.

People you could talk to include:

  • A teacher
  • A parent
  • A family member or family friend
  • A youth worker or coach from your hobbies outside of school or college
  • A doctor or nurse
  • A counsellor from a support service

How to have the conversation

Tell the adult…

  • if you’re not sure how to start the conversation. If you’re nervous and not sure what to say, telling the adult can help them support you during the conversation. They can ask you questions that make it easier for you to open up.
  • how you’re feeling. Explaining that you’re feeling sad, worried or scared about the way someone is speaking to you online will help the adult to help you. They can deal with the situation in a way that’s best for your emotions.  
  • at the right time. If they seem busy or distracted, they may not be able to properly listen to what you’re saying. Pick a time when they will be able to support and comfort you.
  • in person or on the phone. Speak to them however you feel most comfortable. You might prefer to chat face-to-face, on a phone call, on video chat, by email or text message. It doesn’t matter how you tell them that you need to help.
  • if there’s anything you’d like them to keep private. When you’re speaking to someone about a problem, tell them if there are certain details you don’t want them to share with anyone else. But remember, the adult you speak to has a duty to keep you safe and to do this they may need to give information to other people.
Boy and man engaged in conversation at a fence outdoors

After the conversation

You should feel supported. The adult should be making sure you’re okay and taking steps to improve the situation.

If you don’t feel that this is happening:

  • Remember that it’s not your fault. It’s not fair for people to say things like “this has happened because you decided to send that picture” or “you’re stupid for adding that person as a friend”. If someone has pressured you do to things, or made you feel uncomfortable online, they are the only person responsible for the situation.
  • Speak to someone else. Support services have staff who are trained to speak to young people about their problems. They will not blame you for anything that’s happened.
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If you are under 18, report online sexual abuse to one of our Child Protection Advisors at the CEOP Safety Centre.

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If you're over 18, call 101 to speak to your local police. 

In an emergency

If you're ever in immediate harm or danger: 

  • Call the police on 999 straight away
  • Tell an adult you trust who will be able to support you through a difficult time

Talk to someone

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Free, confidential support online and over the phone for young people under 19.

www.childline.org.uk

Call 0800 1111

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The Mix is a charity that provides free information and support for under 25s.

www.themix.org.uk

Use their crisis messenger by texting THEMIX to 85258.

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