Paedos, creeps and weirdos
You meet someone on Instagram. They add you on Facebook. They’re a ‘friend of a friend’. They comment on your pictures and post some funny YouTube clips. You chat. They ask if you’re on Whatsapp or Snapchat?
How long before they turn from an online ‘friend’ into a real friend?
Do you really know who you’re talking to online?
Some people who contact you genuinely just want to chat or be friends.
The problem is some people, men and women, use the internet to look for sex and target young people. They want to trick, pressure or force young people into sex. They are very happy to lie about who they are and what they want to get it.
Why? There are different reasons.
‘Paedophiles’ would rather have sex with children and young people than with adults.
Others don’t care who they have sex with but think young people are easier to trick into doing things.
Both think they can get young people to do things they don’t want to do.
Online you can pretend to be something you’re not – a friend, a mentor, a boyfriend or girlfriend. You can even pretend to be a completely different person. This means it can be hard to tell the difference between someone genuine and someone dangerous.
If things go wrong - it’s never your fault
If anyone tries to get you to do things you don’t want to do, you should talk to someone you trust or report to CEOP
You won’t be in trouble, whatever may have happened.
People who abuse can be very clever at making young people feel guilty about what has happened. They do this to stop you getting help. Remember, a real friend will never pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do or make you feel guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong.
Whatever happens, you can always get help. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know you can contact Childline or report to CEOP
Gamer TycerX explains how to spot the signs of online grooming and what to do if you're worried it might be happening to you.
Weirdo? Spot the signs.
If you talk to strangers online it’s important to be careful, to trust your instincts and know what to do if things go wrong. Here are a few warning signs:
Too good to be true?
Do they share all of your interests and give you lots of attention? Are things moving pretty fast? We all like attention, but remember abusers will do everything they can to make you feel special. If they ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable you can always say no, seek help from an adult or contact us at CEOP.
Do they praise pictures on your profile, saying you’re pretty, fit or sexy? They will try to make you feel good about yourself or special. It’s harder to think critically if someone’s praising you so be especially careful.
Let’s talk about sex.
They will try to get young people to talk about sex, sometimes really quickly. Most of us feel less shy online than in real life so talking about sex can be easier. But be cautious if someone is very flirty or tries to get you to talk about sex online. You don’t have to say or do anything you’re not comfortable with. Remember – it is against the law for an adult to have sex with anyone under 16 and whatever they say, sex between adults and children is always a bad idea.
Got any sexy pictures?
They might ask for sexy pictures and tell you that other young people send them. Remember, if they’re asking you for indecent pictures they are breaking the law. Some will go on to threaten to share them with your friends or family if you don’t do what they want. This is blackmail and a crime. Find out more
Can we go someone more private?
Did you meet in a public place like a game or a chatroom? Have they asked to add you on Facebook, BBM, Whatsapp or anything which allows private chat? Private chat makes it easier to start a relationship and build trust with you. Think before adding people to your networks – do they need to private message you or can you keep chatting in a more public place?
Our little secret?
Abusers don’t want other people to know they’re chatting to you - because other people, family or friends, may be able to help if things go wrong. They might ask you to keep your chat a secret or say you’ll be in trouble if anyone else find out. If someone is making you do things you don’t want to do or aren’t comfortable with you shouldn’t keep it a secret. Tell an adult you trust, phone ChildLine or contact us at CEOP
People who abuse try to control young people by flattering them and giving lots of attention. If young people don’t do what they want - they take that away or suddenly become very nasty. You don't have to do anything you’re not comfortable with.
My webcam’s broken.
Some abusers pretend to be a boy or a girl around your age and claim their webcam is broken so you can’t see them. Never webcam with a stranger with a broken webcam. Remember – it’s easy to record and fake a webcam feed. Just because you think you’ve seen someone on webcam doesn’t mean it’s really them!
Beat the creeps: 5 tips for safe chat
Remember – it’s easy to lie online, so unless you’ve met someone face to face, you could be talking to anyone.
How do I look?
We’ve been told by abusers that they look for young people who use a sexy username, post sexy pictures or talk about sex online. Think about how your online profile makes you appear to others.
Keep your private stuff private.
Don’t share personal information like your phone number, address or school with someone you’ve only met online. If you’re not sure about whether to share information with someone, ask yourself, what do they need it for?
Are they really a 'friend of a friend'?
Are they who they say they are? It’s easy for someone to post fake photos, stream a fake video over webcam, or learn about you and your friends from information online. If they’re a ‘friend of a friend’, ask your friend if they’ve met them in the real world.
Just between us?
Anything you share with a stranger online you’ve lost control of. If you send naked pictures of yourself or do embarrassing things on webcam, they could do share it anywhere, with anyone, even your family. Remember, it’s illegal to take or share ‘indecent’ images of anyone under 18, even if you’re the person in the pictures.
Checking in and meeting up.
Lots of popular social networks and apps enable you to share your location or chat to people in your area. It is never a good idea to share your location or meet up with someone you’ve only met online. But if you do decide to meet up, stay safe by meeting in a public place and taking a trusted adult with you.
Are you worried about someone you’ve met online?
Have you met someone online and you’re not sure they are who they say they are? Or you’ve started an online relationship and they’re trying to take things further by showing you porn, asking you to send them naked selfies or do sexual stuff on cam? Maybe they’re pressuring you to meet up with them?
If you’re worried you should tell an adult you trust, like a parent, carer, teacher or youth worker. They will support you and get you the help that you need.
CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that someone they’ve met is trying to abuse them.
If you’ve met someone online, or face to face, and they are putting you under pressure to have sex or making you feel uncomfortable you should report to CEOP.
This might be someone:
- Making you have sex when you donʼt want to
- Chatting about sex online
- Asking you to meet up face to face if youʼve only met them online
- Asking you to do sexual things on webcam
- Asking for sexual pictures of you
- Making you feel worried, anxious or unsafe
If this is happening to you, or you’re worried that it might be, report to CEOP.
ChildLine is a free helpline for children and young people. You can contact ChildLine about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Whatever your worry, it's better out than in.
ChildLine is a private and confidential service. Confidential means not telling anyone else what you’ve said. This means that whatever you say stays between you and ChildLine.
They would only need to tell someone else if:
- You ask them to
- They believe your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger
- You are being hurt by someone in a position of trust who has access to other children like a teacher or police officer
- You tell them that you are seriously harming another young person
Call them on 0800 1111. The number won’t appear on your phone bill.
You can also visit www.childline.org.uk to speak to a counsellor online.