Online child abuse takes many forms but can include sexual exploitation, grooming, communicating with children for a sexual purpose, but also includes sexting and cyberbullying.
Children and young people should be able to enjoy the benefits of the online world without fear of being abused or exploited. They should also feel empowered to recognise and avoid potential risks.
Signs that a child or young person is experiencing online abuse might include noticing that they are spending lots of time online or that there is a sudden change and they are online a lot less than normal. They might become secretive about what they are doing and who they are talking to online.
Children and young people might have lots of new numbers, email addresses and more messages than normal. As with other forms of abuse you might become aware of a change in their behaviour and they may seem distracted, worried or upset.
Parents and carers need an awareness of what children and young people are doing online, who they are speaking to and what platforms they use. We all want to be confident that our children are safe online, and it’s okay to be curious and ask them questions about what they’re doing online.
If you’re worried that your child or a child you know is the victim of online abuse, it’s always better to say something than do nothing – see our Get Help section for sources of help and advice.