The sexual abuse of children and young people online is hugely damaging for victims and their families (and for perpetrator’s families). The consequences can last a lifetime, damaging relationships, health and long-term wellbeing. The personality profile of cyber enabled contact offenders can mean that behaviour is indiscriminate and there’s little understanding or acknowledgement of the impact on victims.
Internet enables perpetrators easy access to children online for the purposes of Online Sexual Grooming.
The sexual exploitation of children is child abuse and any child or young person, regardless of gender, ethnicity, family background or sexual orientation, may experience this kind of exploitation.
There are children who may be deemed more at risk due to circumstances i.e.:
- A history of abuse, neglect and/or disadvantage
- Being looked after, or formerly looked after
- Disrupted family life, including family breakdown, domestic violence and/or problematic parenting
- Disengagement from education and isolation from other support mechanisms
- Going missing from home or care environments
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Poor health and wellbeing, social isolation, bullying or low self-esteem
What are the signs?
The following are indicators of child sexual abuse. This list is not exhaustive but might help with spotting the signs of a victim:
- Staying out late or episodes of being missing overnight or longer
- Multiple callers (unknown adults/older young people)
- Evidence of/ suspicion of physical or sexual assault disclosure of assault followed by withdrawal of a reported incident
- Unplanned pregnancy and/or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- Peers involved in sexual exploitation
- Drugs/alcohol misuse
- Isolation from peers/social networks
- Exclusion or unexplained absences from school or college
- Relationships with controlling adults
- Entering/leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults
- Unexplained amounts of money, expensive clothing or other items
- Frequenting areas known for adult prostitution
- Children under 13 years asking for sexual health advice
- Concerning use of the internet/mobile phone
For more information on spotting the signs visit Child Sexual Exploitation - The Signs
Got info – report it
If you are a child or young person call Childline on 0800 1111.
If you are, or feel you are at risk of becoming an offender, click here for more information, or go to Stop It Now for free confidential advice.
Find out about the Campaign in our What's Happening Campaigns section.