Q & A

  • I’m planning on meeting up with someone I’ve met online, how can I make sure I’m safe?

    It is always risky to meet up with someone you only know online. If you are planning on meeting face to face, 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.

  • Everybody does online dating these days, what’s risky about me doing it?

    It is not advisable to use any online dating sites when you are under 18 years old.

    Although online dating is popular with adults most well-known dating sites are for over 18’s only. This is because of the very real risks of meeting up with strangers. Also if you use a dating site you are much more likely to meet an adult. If their intentions are sexual this could lead to you being abused and them breaking the law.

    Relationships between adults and young people are not only illegal, but always a bad idea. An adult will always have more power than a young person and some adults will try to use that power to take advantage of young people. Find out more about why sexual relationships between adults and young people are illegal here.

    Remember that people you meet online are still strangers, even if you have been talking to them for a long time. It’s easy for somebody to come across differently in an online environment, so it’s difficult to know their intentions.

    You also shouldn’t use dating sites set up for under 18s. Some of these may not even be genuine websites, as dating websites are used to ‘phish’ for personal information. Find out more about the risks of online dating and how to keep yourself safe here.

    If you do meet someone online who you want to meet up with in face to face 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.

  • What does a ‘paedo’ look like?

    You may have heard the term ‘paedo’ or ‘paedophile’ before. Terms like these are used to describe 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 advice on simple things you can do to protect yourself online here and in real life here.

  • What is sexual abuse?

    Sexual abuse is when a young person is pressured, forced or tricked in to any sexual activity with an adult or another young person.

    Sexual abuse includes when:

    - You’re being touched in a way you don’t like, without giving your permission or consent.

    - You’re being forced to have sex.

    - You’re forced to look at sexual picture or videos.

    - You’re made to watch someone do something sexual. This can include someone exposing themselves to you via webcam, in pictures or in person.

    - You’re made to do something sexual to yourself or to someone else that feels uncomfortable or wrong. This could be via a webcam or face-to-face.

    Sexual abuse is a crime. If someone is sexually abused it is NEVER their fault.

    If you have been sexually abused you may feel like you’re on your own but there is help available. There are people out there who understand, who will listen to you and who will help make it stop.

    The most important thing to do is to tell someone what has happened. Taking that first step to tell someone can be really difficult and even embarrassing. There are some tips about how to start talking to someone you trust about things which are difficult here. You can also talk to ChildLine for free any time on 0800 1111.

    CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that someone is trying to abuse them. If you are being sexually abused you can report to CEOP or your local police. If you are in immediate danger please call 999.

  • I’ve been seeing someone recently. Things have started getting full on really fast. How can I tell if they genuinely like me or if they’re just using me for sex?

    Being in a new relationship can be very exciting but you may find yourself in a situation where a partner is pressuring you to do things sexually before you feel ready. This is not ok. You should never feel forced into doing something you’re not comfortable with.

    If a partner truly cares for you, they will understand how you’re feeling and respect your decision to take things slowly. Remember, the law says that both people must give their consent – giving their permission without pressure, after thinking their decision through carefully – before any sexual contact. You can find useful advice about whether you’re ready for sex here and further information about sex and relationships on the Brook website.