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Online Exploitation

An individual or group using online platforms to take advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person into sexual and/ or criminal activity.

The act of developing a relationship with a child to enable abuse and exploitation. Online platforms, such as online gaming, social media, messaging and live streaming, can be used to do this.

Many games offer online game play and features. Gaming can be used as a portal to groom and exploit children.

Some people may adopt an identity in order to befriend a young person with the aim of grooming into exploitation.  Some individuals can send money or gifts to groom and exploit.

People can also access online accounts to steal or delete online credit and possessions to coerce or blackmail people into criminal or sexual activity.

Young people can be manipulated into sharing sensitive information and images.

Offers of quick money for a day’s work, sometimes as adverts, can be circulated on various social media sites such as snapchat.

Social media sites can also be used by exploiters to contact, befriend, coerce, and threaten children and music videos on YouTube can be used to glamorise gangs and to draw in children from wider social and geographical areas.

Perpetrators of exploitation can use online platforms to coerce young people into criminal activity and then monitor and control their movements.  They could use location tracking to track the young persons location, coercing their behaviour and blackmailing them into criminal activity.  This is sometimes know as remote mothering.

Young people’s online bank accounts can be used to hold or ‘clean’ money from criminal activity.  This is sometimes referred to as ‘squaring’.

  • Talking about older or new friends they’ve met online.
  • Talking about gifts or money they’ve received online.
  • Become withdrawn and secretive.
  • Having a new phone or more than one phone.
  • Receiving a large number of calls or messages.
  • Worried about being away from their phone.

Talk to children about what they are doing online. Listen to them, don’t dismiss their experiences.

  • Play games with the children so that there is an understanding of the features and whether they are appropriate. Use privacy and parental controls and turn off location settings.  Make an agreement about use and time online.
  • Reiterate that some people may pretend to be someone else and the risks of giving personal data to anyone online. Identify the danger of meeting up with someone who they met online in the real world.  If a child has any concerns reiterate that they should talk to a trusted adult.