New figures reveal four in five victims of online grooming crimes are girls

Our latest research has found, for offences where age and gender is recorded, girls aged 12-15 are most likely to be victims of online grooming, and more needs to be done to protect children online.


In the last three years, there has been a 60% increase in the number of sexual communication with a child offences against girls, with 10,700 communications recorded by the police in England and Wales between April 2017 and March 2021. 

Girls are more likely to be targeted by groomers, with data from police forces in England and Wales showing girls were the victim in 83% of grooming cases where the gender was known between April 2017 and March 2021. 

We recently highlighted how the Government’s draft Online Safety Bill needs significant changes in order to protect children from online abuse. And more can still be done to deliver a Bill that helps prevent online child abuse, while also playing an important role to deliver the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. 

More changes are needed to help protect girls - and all children - from sexual abuse online. We’re calling on the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorres, to take action to make sure the Online Safety Bill helps prevent online child abuse.

Help us put a stop to the Wild West Web

"I feel like the only person taking responsibility for the abuse I experienced"

Frida*, who was groomed on Facebook when she was 13 by a man in his 30s, has joined the call for Nadine Dorres and the Government to do more to keep children safe online. 

Frida said:


“It can’t be right that a married man who was more than twice my age and who I didn’t know was able to add me on Facebook, then message me on WhatsApp where he groomed me into sending abuse images.

I want the Government to take action through the Online Safety Bill so that someone will be held responsible for the role social media plays in this abuse.

I really hope the new Culture Secretary seizes the opportunity to shape the legislation so it does everything possible to prevent other girls from going through what happened to me.”

Anna Edmundson, Head of Policy at the NSPCC, said:

“Any child can be a victim of online sexual abuse but the sheer number of girls being targeted is both alarming and a reminder of the failure of platforms to effectively protect their young users.

When the Government published its strategy on violence against women and girls earlier this year it made a commitment to tackle crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls – including those that take place online. 

One of the primary functions of the Online Safety Bill is to keep all children – including girls - safe when they go online. Now, the new Culture Secretary has the opportunity to fix the substantive weaknesses in the legislation so it does just that.”

Help us end the Wild West Web

We’re urging the Government to strengthen their plans for the Online Safety Bill so they can make the UK the safest place in the world for children to be online. 

To tackle the scale and extent of online child abuse effectively, current legislation must be strengthened by:

  • stopping grooming and abuse spreading between apps
  • disrupting abuse at the earliest possible stages
  • fixing major gaps in the child safety duty
  • holding senior managers accountable
  • commiting to a statutory user advocate for children.

We’re asking you to write to the new Culture Secretary to ask her to make sure children are at the heart of the Online Safety Bill as part of our Wild West Web campaign.

Take action today