As a parent or carer, it is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help them understand the potential risks.
Children and young people may find it difficult to recognise that they are being exploited. The person abusing them could come from any gender, race or culture.
There are a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as:
- Making sure you understand the risks associated with your child being online and putting measures in place to minimise these risks.
- Being cautious of older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where they appear to have control over your child
- Being aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions and carefully monitoring any instances of staying out late or not returning home
- Staying alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse such as bruising.
How is the grooming of children different online?
In many circumstances, grooming online is faster and anonymous and results in children trusting an online ‘friend’ more quickly than someone they had just met ‘face to face’.
Those intent on sexually harming children can easily access information about them and they are able to hide their true identity, age and gender. People who groom children may not be restricted by time or accessibility to a child as they would be in the ‘real world’.
Click here for tips on keeping your children safe online.
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