CHILDLINE: Understanding the risks and benefits of our children being online

We all know that children and young people are living in an increasingly online-focused world, so it’s more important than ever that we help them to understand the risks, as well as the benefits, of being online.

By Darren Worth
Monday, 11th July 2022, 6:00 pm
It's more important than ever that children get all the help they need so they understand the risks, as well as the benefits, of being online. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
It's more important than ever that children get all the help they need so they understand the risks, as well as the benefits, of being online. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Our Childline counsellors often speak to young people who are worried that images or videos of themselves which they’ve sent to a partner or friend have been shared without their permission. We would never encourage children to share images of themselves online, but we are here to support them if they have and are worried about what might happen.

There are many reasons why a young person may share a self-generated sexual image. For example, they may share it for fun, to a boyfriend or girlfriend, or they may have been groomed or blackmailed into sharing this content.

Thousands of these images are reported to the Internet Watch Foundation each year, and research suggests that number is rising.

Our trained Childline counsellors know the devastating impact that the sharing of nude images can have on a young person.

Some young people told our counsellors they felt embarrassed, fearful, hopeless and filled with self-loathing. Others told them they had concerns about the long-term impact of the images on their future prospects, and some revealed they’d turned to self-harm to cope with their situation.

No young person should have to feel like that, so Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation created a special tool last year to help children in this situation.

The tool is called Report Remove, and just as the name suggests, it allows young people to report images of themselves that have appeared or they’re worried might appear online.

Once the report has been made, the IWF will then work to have the content removed if it breaks the law, and our Childline counsellors are there to ensure that all young people are safeguarded and supported throughout the process.

Anyone under 18 can find the tool, and more details about it, on the Childline website www.childline.org.uk/remove or by searching ‘Report Remove’.

Adults who are supporting young people with this issue can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 and email [email protected] for help.