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Online abuse

Online Abuse

Date posted:
15th November 2021
Online abuse

What is it? 

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet. It can happen across any device that's connected to the web, like computers, tablets and mobile phones. And it can happen anywhere online, including:

  • social media
  • text messages and messaging apps
  • emails
  • online chats
  • online gaming
  • live-streaming sites.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know or from strangers. It might be part of other abuse which is taking place offline, like bullying or grooming. Or the abuse might only happen online.

A child or young person experiencing abuse online might:

  • spend a lot more or a lot less time than usual online, texting, gaming or using social media.
  • seem distant, upset or angry after using the internet or texting.
  • be secretive about who they're talking to and what they're doing online or on their mobile phone

How can social media be used to abuse?

  • Someone sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
  • Pressures you to send explicit videos.
  • Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can't be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.

What's the impact?

If a Child or Vulnerable adult reveals online abuse it can be difficult to know what to say and do if a child tells you they're being abused online. They might not realise what’s happening is wrong. And they might even blame themselves. If a child talks to you about online abuse it’s important to:

  • listen carefully to what they're saying
  • let them know they've done the right thing by telling you
  • tell them it's not their fault
  • say you'll take them seriously
  • don't confront the alleged abuser
  • explain what you'll do next
  • report what the child has told you as soon as possible.

Where to go for Support:

For parents and carers

  • Net Aware
    In partnership with O2. Your guide to the latest apps, games and social media sites kids are using.
  • Online safety advice
    Whether you're an online expert or you're not sure where to start, our tools and advice will help you keep your child safe.
  • Parent Info
    A website for parents about life online.
  • ThinkUKnow
    A website from National Crime Agency's CEOP Command about keeping children and young people safe on the internet.
  • UK Safer Internet Centre
    Promoting the safe and responsible use of technology for young people.
  • Internet Matters
    A site to help empower parents and carers to keep children safe in a digital world.


Source: Online abuse | NSPCC

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