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Luton Borough Council

Help your children to stay safe from sexual exploitation online

We're asking parents to be vigilant and make sure their children are staying safe online.

Child sexual exploitation can affect any child or young person, with grooming often taking place online on social media or through mobile phone conversations.
Often, children may not recognise that sexual exploitation has taken place (they may be asked to share indecent images for example).

Grooming can often begin with a person befriending a child and giving them gifts or money. The child may feel forced to distance themselves from their friends and family at the wishes of the offender, making them more vulnerable to exploitation.
While there may not always be physical signs of exploitation, parents may notice their children:
  • becoming more secretive
  • using alcohol or drugs
  • becoming more withdrawn

Councillor Mahmood Hussain, Portfolio Holder for children and young people, said: “Children often do not realise they are being groomed and so it is vitally important that we teach them how to stay safe online.

“Talk to your children about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and try to be aware of what websites and games they are using online. If you have any concerns about child sexual exploitation please report them immediately.”

Top tips for ensuring your children are staying safe online this winter:

  • check that their social media accounts are set to private so that posts can only be viewed by people who they have approved
  • set up parental controls to help block upsetting or inappropriate websites and content
  • talk to your child about what they share online and explain to them that things they post may be downloaded by others and sent elsewhere
  • remind them not to accept friend requests from anybody who they do not know
  • encourage them to talk to you if they see anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • make your children aware that people may not be who they say online and to take care when speaking with people online

If you are concerned about child sexual exploitation, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01582 547 653 during office hours or 0300 300 8123 out of office hours.

© 2020 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ