What’s the impact of sexual abuse on webcam?
Even though the children involved may never meet the offender face to face, this is sexual abuse.
Children forced, tricked or persuaded to participate in the abuse, for example by performing sexual acts on themselves, may be left with long term trauma from the experience and can suffer just as much harm as those who are abused by an offender in the ‘real’ world.
The existence of images can make it hard to feel that the abuse has come to an end and young people may struggle, feeling that they were to blame even though their actions were directed by the offender. Young people also describe finding it hard to know who to trust after such deception and betrayal online.
Why would a young person engage in sexual acts on webcam?
It can be traumatic for parents to discover that their children were having sexual conversations and were tricked into sharing sexual images or videos in the first place. Many parents feel a range of emotions from confusion to horror and grief. They may also feel angry with their child.
Whilst feeling angry is understandable it's important to let your child know that they are not at fault, and to work through your feelings with others so they don't get in the way of the support that your child needs from you.
When online abuse happens it is never a young person’s fault. As young people reach adolescence and develop sexually, their interest in sex and relationships increases.
Most young people are comfortable communicating and sharing online so it is understandable that they may use the internet to explore sex and relationships. This may be natural but there are some very real risks.
Shame and fear of being blamed, however, can be a major barrier to children seeking help so it’s important to help them recognise that responsibility lies entirely with the offender.
If your child tells you they've been blackmailed, don't blame them, and tell them you don't blame them. Even if they've engaged in risky behaviour – risk-taking is a normal part of adolescent development