Online grooming cases increase by almost 50%

Online safety must be a priority for parents buying internet devices this Christmas

We're warning parents to be aware of internet safety when buying Christmas gifts after our ChildLine service revealed a huge rise in contacts from children worried about online grooming.

Girls appear to be particularly prone to being contacted on social networks, online game environments and other areas popular with children and young people. But boys could be less likely to report their experiences and seek help.

Phone with alert

Children felt trapped and scared after being asked to:

  • perform sexual acts on webcam
  • send sexual images online
  • meet up in person.

Often, those making these demands appeared from their profiles to be the same or a similar age to the children targeted – but then turned out to be much older adults.

"The internet offers an amazing environment for children to be creative, explore their interests, play with friends, learn or socialise, but there are risks every parent buying enabled devices this Christmas should be aware of."
Peter Wanless / Chief Executive at the NSPCC


Contacts to ChildLine

In 2014/15, ChildLine undertook almost 400 counselling sessions about online grooming, a 42 % increase on the previous year with 70% of contacts from girls where the gender was known. 

Read the full report

Get help with devices

With the popularity of games consoles, tablets, smart phones and other internet enabled devices as gifts, it can be hard to know how to choose something that's safe for your child.

Get advice on online safety

"It all happened so quickly, he’d only been talking to them for a few weeks before he arranged to meet them."
Leslie* / Mother of Abigail* and Kathryn*

Children's stories

"He'd arranged to meet the girls out of school on the Monday and take them off with him."

Read Leslie's story

How Leslie* got support

Leslie's* daughters were groomed by a man who lied to them about his age and sent them explicit messages.

After her ordeal, Leslie's* daughter Kathryn* got counselling through our Letting the Future in service, which helps victims of abuse recover.

Read about Letter the Future In

"Parents have a vital role to play in keeping children safe online and it doesn’t have to be daunting. Just asking children what sites, apps and games they use could be a great way to start a conversation. And there is a wealth of advice available on our website."
Peter Wanless / Chief Executive at the NSPCC

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Report online abuse to CEOP

CEOP helps keep children safe from online grooming and sexual exploitation. If someone's acted inappropriately to a child or young person you know, report it to CEOP.

Make a CEOP report

Discover more about our work helping to keep children safe online

Call online safety helpline

Have a question about parental controls or concern about a social network your child uses? Whatever it is, our expert advisors are here to help.

0808 8005002

What social networks are children using?

From Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat and Tumblr, Net Aware is a simple guide for parents to the most popular social networks, apps and games

Visit Net Aware

Be Share Aware

It's good to share – but sometimes sharing online can be dangerous. Be Share Aware and keep children safe online and on social networks, apps and games.

Be Share Aware

Keeping your child safe online

Helpful advice and tools you can use to help keep your child safe whenever and wherever they go online.

Online safety advice

Contact our press office

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020 7825 2514

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*DISCLAiMER

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