For concerns about online sexual exploitation:

Technology can facilitate sexual exploitation of children. Offenders use social media (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat), to identify young people whom they can groom.

When abusive images have been posted or shared online, there is little control over who can access them. This can lead to repeat victimisation. GPS technology can be used to pinpoint (within a few metres) where a photo was taken – revealing a victim’s location very easily.

A child can be sexually exploited through technology without even realising it. For example, a child or young person is persuaded to post or send images of themselves and these are then used as a bargaining tool by the offenders and threats of violence and intimidation are used as methods of coercion.

Offenders may use technology to exploit children and young people in the following ways:

  • Harassment and bullying through text messaging.
  • Purchasing mobile phones for victims and sharing their numbers among group or gang members.
  • Randomly contacting children via social networking sites.
  • Using ‘friends’ lists on networking sites of known victims to target children and young people.
  • Viewing extreme or violent pornography and discussing it during sexual assaults.
  • Posting images of victims with rival gang members to invite a sexual assault as punishment.
  • Filming and distributing incidents of rape.
  • Distributing Blackberry PIN numbers for lists of girls labelled as ‘easy’.
  • Contacting and grooming children and young people through online gaming sites. 

Research shows groomers do not always pose as children and a large percentage are honest about their age. It can take a very short time for some predators to arrange to meet their victim and this can involve the use of sophisticated, persuasive, language-based strategies to build trust rapidly.

Apps                                                

 ASKfm is a social networking site where you can ask other people questions. You can choose to ask the question anonymously.

 Google+ is a space where you can share photos and videos, instant message or make video-calls.

 Instagram is a picture and video sharing app. Users can post content and use hashtags to share experiences, thoughts or memories with an online community.

 Minecraft is a game that lets you build and create a virtual world using building blocks.

 Snapchat is an app that lets you send a photo, short video or message to your contacts.

 WhatsApp is an instant messaging app which lets you send messages, images and videos to friends in one to one and group chats.

 YouTube allows you to watch, create and comment on videos. You can create your own YouTube account, playlists and channel with a public profile.

Visit NSPCC’s Net Aware Guide for more information on how to make your child’s social media secure, on these and lots of other apps, sites and games.


Online gaming

Perpetrators are increasingly targeting children and young people via online gaming sites, pretending to be someone who they are not. This can often lead to bullying, grooming and sexual exploitation. The Breck Foundation is a self-funding charity, raising awareness of playing safe whilst using the internet. 

Indecent Images – Know the Law

Taking, making, sharing and possessing indecent images and pseudo-photographs (an image made by computer-graphics, which appears to be a photograph) of people under 18 is illegal. It doesn’t matter how old they look, looking at indecent images of under 18s is illegal. 

The Home Office has published guidance to help young people understand the law on making and sharing indecent images of people under 18 years-old. There are also short films that demonstrate the serious harm that viewing indecent images of children can cause, including the Is She Legal?  video.

Dealing with unwanted requests for sexual images

Childline’s Zipit app, uses humour to help teenagers deal with unwanted requests for sexual images of themselves. The free app offers young people a gallery of images and animations which they can send in response to requests for sexual pictures and to deal with difficult sexting situations. 

Campaign Resources

A bad romance: a live Snapchat story -spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship

Kayleigh’s Love Story – a film about aspects of the last 13 days of the life of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood. If shown in a cinema this would have a 15 certificate.

Case Study: Sharing Sexual Imagery Online – A Carers Story

Graphics

Gaming poster

Sexting poster

Reporting Concerns

You can report online abuse through the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website or the Internet Watch Foundation. Or report anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555111.

If you are concerned about a child in Essex, call Children & Families Hub (Social Care): 0345 603 7627 or 0345 606 1212 (out of hours). 

If you are concerned about a child in Southend, call 01702 215007 or 0345 606 1212 (out of hours).

If you are concerned about a child in Thurrock, call 01375 652 802 or 01375 372 468 (out of hours).

If a child is in immediate danger, dial 999 and ask to speak to police.

For parents

Parent Online Safety Resource Pack - Pack containing printable leaflets around how to navigate the online world and keep your child safe
parents guide by NWG to becoming a safer parent online  
Sexting advice for parents - how to have those important conversations with children UK Safer Internet Centre - advice and tips on talking to children about online safety
Net Aware – directory outlining the most popular networks, games and apps
NSPCC - online games and setting up parental controls
ThinkYouKnow – advice and support from the National Crime Agency

Digiduck's Big Decision - children's e-book about making safe choices online

For children's workforce

E-Safety Policy - to be read in conjunction with the SET procedures and it is envisaged, that this document will provide a framework for partner agencies
Net Aware – directory outlining the most popular networks, games and apps, which children and young people are currently using
Cyberbullying guidance and online safety PSHE toolkit
Responding to sexting in schools and colleges (UKCCIS Guidance)
 
NSPCC online course: managing sexualised behaviour in primary schools
Stop CSE website
ThinkYouKnow – advice and support from the National Crime Agency
CSA Centre - Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse

For young people

Safe Date website – advice on healthy relationships
Zipit app – app to help respond to unwanted requests for indecent images
What child sexual exploitation means – video made by teenagers
Interview’ , ‘Superficial’ , ‘Happened’ – videos highlighting the harm that viewing indecent images of children can cause
Sorted - advice and information on computer security issues, designed by young people
ThinkYouKnow – advice and support from the National Crime Agency

For schools

E-Safety Policy - to be read in conjunction with the SET procedures and it is envisaged, that this document will provide a framework for partner agencies
Net Aware – directory outlining the most popular networks, games and apps, which children and young people are currently using
Cyberbullying guidance and online safety PSHE toolkit 
Responding to sexting in schools and colleges (UKCCIS Guidance) 
NSPCC online course: managing sexualised behaviour in primary schools
Stop CSE website
ThinkYouKnow – advice and support from the National Crime Agency
CSA Centre - Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse



This is part of a wider Southend, Essex and Thurrock campaign about online child sexual abuse and youth produced sexual imagery, for information about local support and services in Southend please visit the Southend LSCB and Thurrock please visit the Thurrock LSCB.