‘Video chat’ is a term used to describe a conversation held over the internet using a camera so you can see people in real time. These conversations can be one-to-one, but technology has now made it possible for people to talk in large groups too.
Chances are you have used Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty, WeChat, Skype or WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family. Video chat can be a great way for you to feel close to people that don't live nearby.
There are lots of people online who genuinely just want to chat. But there are a few people out there, girls and boys, men and women, who use video chat to hurt young people by asking them to do things they aren't comfortable with.
They may try to convince young people that it’s ok to talk to them about sex. They might pressure them to send pictures of themselves or go naked on a video chat or live stream.
It’s easy to get carried away on video chat. Video chatting can be fun and exciting. It can feel really private - but there's a chance it could be recorded or shared. Although they often don't follow through, sometimes people threaten to share naked photos of young people with their friends and family.
Lies and truths
Here are some lies people tell. It's important you know the facts.
“If you do this for me I’ll leave you alone”
The best thing if someone threatens you online is to get up, walk away and tell someone as soon you can. If you feel trapped, report to CEOP
“The police will never find me, I’ve hidden myself on the internet”
This is never true. No matter what clever tricks they claim to be using, everyone leaves a ‘digital footprint’ online. The police are very good at tracking these people down, even if they’re not in the UK.
“If you don’t do more for me I’m going to share this image”
They often don’t share the images - even when they’ve threatened to. It’s not in their best interests. The more information they share, the easier it is for the police to track them down.
“If I share this image you’ll never get over it”
You might feel you have no way out but this isn't true. All problems can be solved with support. If they do share an image, this is better than being forced to do more sexual things. Even if you think they will share the image, talking to someone will help you get perspective. You need support to make it stop.
“It’s your fault for doing it in the first place”
It’s never your fault. If you’ve sent a naked image or stripped on camera, the only person responsible is the one who pressured you to do it. Remember, they have committed a serious crime.
“There’s no one who can help you. I’m in control”
There is lots of help and support out there. If you’re too embarrassed to tell an adult you trust like your mum or dad, you can contact CEOP. CEOP have dealt with many cases such as these and spoken to many young people in this situation.They will provide you with advice and support. They will also find the person so the police can arrest them.
Things to remember about video chat
Don’t feel pressured to get naked on camera
If someone is pressurising you to video chat or send videos, block them and report them to CEOP. CEOP can support you through this.
If someone threatens you online, tell an adult you trust as soon as possible.
If you can, get up from your computer immediately, walk away and tell an adult you trust, report to CEOP or call Childline on 0800 1111.
It’s never too late to get help.
No matter how far things have gone, there are always people out there to help. If you’re too embarrassed or scared to tell an adult you trust, you should report to CEOP or call Childline on 0800 1111. They will understand what you’re going through and help to make it stop.
Remember - it’s not your fault.
Whatever you’ve shared on camera, if someone is threatening you or making you feel uncomfortable - they are the only person to blame. They will be held responsible. You won’t be in trouble.
They have broken the law.
Encouraging a young person to get naked or do sexual things on camera is a serious crime. You’re not alone, you will be supported.
Has someone made you feel uncomfortable on video chat?
Unfortunately this type of abuse can happen to anyone. Remember, if this does happen to you – it’s never your fault. It’s never too late to get help.
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.
Want to talk to someone privately?
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.