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  1. ITV Report

Safeguarding charity: 'Most children groomed online are sexually exploited'

More than half of children groomed online who were referred to safeguarding charity Barnardo’s based in Bristol, were sexually exploited after meeting their attacker.

Credit: PA

According to by Barnardo’s, more than half of those groomed online – including some as young as 10 years old – were exploited by more than one person.

The results are a chilling warning to parents to talk to their children about not revealing personal information to so-called virtual ‘friends’, or meeting them in real life.

Credit: ITV News

In the last six months, Bristol's Barnardo’s Against Sexual Exploitation worked with 255 young people to gather research:

  • of those, 131 had been groomed online.
  • of those groomed online, 76 had contact offences committed against them and 74 were exploited by more than one perpetrator.
  • of the 131 young people, 114 were female and 17 were male.

This new research shows just how susceptible children are to being groomed online and then sexually abused offline. We’re not talking about stereotypical victims either – they can be anyone’s child with access to mobile technology.

Children make friends very quickly with people they’ve only just met online. They don’t regard them as strangers, or see the risks they might pose.

– Barnardo’s, Hugh Sherriffe
48%
of young people living at home, said their parents only know some of what they do online
11%
admitted their parents understood nothing about their online activity
33%
said they found it easier to show their real personality on the internet than face-to-face.