Unhealthy relationships highlighted in new Childline campaign

#ListenToYourSelfie helps young people spot the signs of online abuse and grooming

As more and more young people are using apps and webcams, Childline has seen a rise in contacts about online sexual abuse.

New figures from our Childline service show:

    • the number of counselling sessions for online sexual abuse worries rose last year (2015-16) by 24% to 3,716
    • most of the young people were aged 12-15 and almost two-thirds were girls
    • 1 in 8 of the sessions related specifically to grooming, an increase of 21%.

"My boyfriend is older than me and makes me share pics and do stuff with other guys online. He gives me money and food when I go online and do things via webcam. I haven’t told anyone else what’s happening, I drink to forget. I’m too scared to report him. I just know I’m not normal."
A 16 year old girl who contacted Childline


Recognising the signs of grooming

The internet is increasingly used as a gateway by offenders to commit crimes including sexual assaults, sexual exploitation and grooming. To tackle this issue, Childline is launching a new campaign, #ListenToYourSelfie aimed at helping young people recognise the signs of grooming and unhealthy relationships, both online and offline.

Funded by BBC Children in Need, the campaign features two films where selfies come to life and question a situation. The Game focuses on a same-sex online grooming scenario and The Party highlights peer to peer sexual pressure and grooming.

Watch: The Game and The Party films

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said:
“Most of us talk to people online and it’s a great way to stay connected and make new friends. But there are dangers.

Young people may not understand what is right or wrong in a relationship, or what to do if something makes them feel uncomfortable, online or offline. #ListenToYourSelfie is aimed at helping young people recognise signs of being manipulated, controlled or exploited so they feel empowered to make their own decisions or choices. We hope that by putting this in the spotlight we can help young people to feel able to speak up if they feel worried or scared about a situation or relationship.”


Childline is our free 24/7, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there to help – by phone, email or online.

0800 1111

Contact Childline

"I think I’m being groomed. There’s a guy I met online and he asks if he can meet me and said he wants to buy me gifts. He has asked for pictures and one time I made the mistake of sending a nude selfie. He won’t show me any pictures of him. He threatened to show my nude selfie to the world. I’m gay, but nobody knows. I cry myself to sleep every night with worry."
A 15 year old boy who contacted Childline

Healthy and unhealthy relationships

Lots of young people have been contacting Childline about their relationships. Now they can get advice and support to help them work out what feels right.

Find out more

Childline founder, Esther Rantzen said:
“The internet has brought many positive changes, for instance, most of Childline’s contacts from children and young people are now online. But it has also brought dangers, and online grooming is a real risk. 

Very often young people tell us of their feelings of shame because they don’t recognise that they are not to blame. One young person who had been persuaded to send explicit pictures of herself told us ‘I walked myself into this mess, I couldn’t ask for help'.

It can be very hard for young people to identify that they are being manipulated or exploited, or to recognise that something is not right. We want children and young people to know that Childline is there for them, whatever their worry, to answer any questions and offer support and advice.”

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Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - a family member, friend or professional. 
Read more about grooming


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