Charlotte's story How our Protect and Respect programme made her feel safer and happier talking to people online

Girl with mobile phone"When I was 15, I was feeling really low. I found it difficult to mix with people at school and was being bullied because people thought I was different. I was later diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. 

"I spent a lot of my time online as I found it easier than talking to people face- to-face, and it made me feel less lonely. I used Blackberry messenger (BBM) and would often add people that I didn't know.

"One day, I accepted a BBM request from a girl I didn't know and we talked about lots of different things. We quickly became friends.

"But after a few days, things changed. She kept asking me to send her a naked picture. I didn’t really question why and I sent her one without thinking. She kept asking for more, but when I said ‘no’, she threatened to put the one she already had on Facebook.

"It all went quiet for a couple of days but then I heard from someone at school that she'd set up a Facebook page under my name and posted the naked picture of me on it. Anyone could see it.

"I was so scared and ashamed and I didn’t know what to do.  After a couple of days she took the photo down, so I thought it was all over. 

"The bullying at school got so bad that I had to leave to escape it."
Charlotte*

"But it wasn’t. She had sent the photo to one of my family and it got back to my mum who was really upset and angry. Mum reported it to the police straight away and someone from the Sexual Exploitation Investigation Unit came round to take a statement from me.

"The police investigation traced the page back to a man. It turns out he'd been doing it to other young girls too.

"The bullying at school got so bad that I had to leave to escape it. Not long after, a man tried to contact me on WhatsApp and Facebook and said I should go and meet him. The police later told me that it was the same man who'd tricked me before.

"After my mum first reported it to the police, I was referred to the NSPCC’s Protect and Respect programme. At first, I was really nervous as I didn't know what to expect, but the NSPCC helped me to realise that it wasn't my fault. As well as one-to-one sessions, I had sessions as part of a group and one day we all wrote nice things about each other, which I still keep on my bedroom wall.

"The NSPCC helped build up my confidence, and I now find it easier to talk to new people.

"If it wasn't for the NSPCC, things could have got even worse but I now feel much safer and happier online"
Charlotte

"I've joined an NSPCC group where I've made artwork for events and even helped interview new members of staff. If it wasn't for the NSPCC, things could have got even worse but I now feel much safer and happier online." 

Staying safe online

Charlott's mum Janet said: "When I found out that an adult had asked Charlotte for naked photographs, I was out of my mind with worry. I hadn't felt able to give her advice about keeping herself safe online and I didn't think for a minute that people might not be who they said they were.

"The NSPCC talked to me about social media and helped me learn more about online safety. I feel more confident talking to Charlotte about it now and helping her to stay safe.

"The NSPCC talked to me about social media and helped me learn more about online safety"
Janet* / Charlotte's mum

"You don't have to be a technical expert to help protect children online, but having some knowledge does help. Through working with the NSPCC, I can see that Charlotte is safer and also that she has grown in confidence."


*DISCLAiMER

Names have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.

Find out how we help children like Charlotte

Share Aware

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Online safety

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