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There is no definitive ‘checklist’ of behaviours that would prove that a child is being sexually abused, groomed online, or being harmed though sexual conversation or content. You should always trust your instinct as a parent and if any aspect of your child’s behaviour is concerning or out of the ordinary, you should take action and speak to them.

Here are some indicators that may help you identify or question if you should be more concerned about Technology-Assisted Child Sexual Abuse:

    • Overly secret online, which may include deleting browser history.
    • People sending your child online credits, money or games etc.
    • Being sent links to adult websites.
    • Being offered money/gifts in exchange for pictures of themselves (not necessarily sexual images).
    • Overly anxious if they cannot speak to an individual.
    • Overly challenging and dismissive if their online ‘friend’ may not be who they say they are.
    • Receiving lots of friend requests from people they don’t know.
    • Persistent requests for personal details regarding the child.
Help for Parents
  • Persistent requests, asking if the child has a camera or for them to turn on their camera during a conversation.
  • Being sent intimate photos.
  • Posts and messages telling the child they could make lots of money.
  • Using language (particularly sexual terms) you wouldn’t expect them to know.
  • Your child may be excited because they believe they are talking to a celebrity or well know You Tuber
  • Your child changes their clothes or takes more time on how they look before speaking to particular person or group.
  • Receiving requests to install privacy software or to leave an open forum and talk elsewhere.
  • Someone persistently calling, emailing or messaging your child.

Those who groom children can be very skilled in deception. They can deceive not only the child whom they wish to abuse, but also the child’s friends and family too. Grooming behaviour is very much about power and control so methods such as blackmail, threats to share intimate images of the child, physical threats, etc. are often used.

Children and other young people may target your child with the intention of obtaining images or getting them to engage in some form of sexual communication. This may be particularly difficult if the child goes to school with the person and feels they can’t just block them.

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An adult who seeks to groom a child will seek to build a relationship and try to gain the child’s trust and confidence in order to obtain power over the child. They will also do their utmost to try and make sure the child keeps the abuse secret. They may see you as a means to target your child and start by grooming you in the hope you will trust them and enable them to have access to your child though you being friends, babysitting, doing odd jobs, or helping your child with sport or hobbies.

If you do decide to talk to your child about your concerns, you should remain calm and not for blame them. They may be reluctant to talk and may not even recognise the abuse as wrong. You can read advice on initiating a discussion with your child here.

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