In today’s society, it is often difficult for young people to recognise the difference between the online world and the real world. We teach an ethos of play virtual/live real, encouraging young people to recognise that the friends they make online are not like their real-life friends.
It isn’t always easy to recognise the early signs of grooming as it might appear that the young person has just made a new friend or started a new relationship. However, the nature of the relationship will soon start to change as the groomer exerts more control and manipulation over the target.
Grooming techniques are used for a variety of reasons, such as gang recruitment & County Lines. The motives are not always sexual. We work hard to break the stereotypes around grooming: it is not always younger girls and older men; boys can be groomed too, and a perpetrator can be any age or gender.
Where can it happen?
video gaming sites
private gaming servers
social media platforms
websites with instant messenger or photo sharing
chat rooms (like Omegle)
What are the signs
Download our PDF to help you spot the signs
Our organisation was founded in 2014 in response to the tragic loss of Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old boy who was groomed and murdered by an online predator. We work to stop this online abuse from happening again.
Please note if shown in cinemas this would be rated a 15.
Online grooming story:
It’s against the law for anyone to share a sexual image or video of someone who’s under 18.
Sexual extortion or 'sextortion' is a form of blackmail where a someone threatens to share a nude or sexual image/video of you unless you on the internet or to your friends and family unless you give in to their demands. The demands may be financial or requests for more image/videos.
Sending nude pictures is something that young people often do in their private lives. Sometimes this is called sexting, although for some people sexting means just explicit texts rather than images or videos. The problem with sharing nudes is that it often does not stay private between young people - nudes can be shared online via messaging services of even social media. This is a form of online abuse and can cause long lasting mental health issues.
More and more, children are being asked by online predators (whilst seemingly safe in their own homes) on different online platforms to perform sexual acts to camera or provide pictures and videos. Abusers save/record this content and share it across networks online.
This type of child sexual abuse is now the predominant type of sexual abuse imagery found on the internet.
Did you know 1 in 6 young people have screen-grabbed or saved a nude image of an ex-partner to share at a later date?
Need help? Contact Report Remove
If a nude or sexual image of you ends up online go to Report Remove to have it reported and taken down.
Online radicalisation is when an individual or a group of people are indoctrinated over time to believe increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals. The beliefs often reject or undermine mainstream ideas and rules of government. Propaganda and radical content is created and shared online - some groups specifically target young teenage boys over the internet. The signs of radicalisation aren't always obvious but it is important to be vigilant and get help/support when necessary.
Incels and the manosphere target teenage boys
Incels (“involuntary celibates”) are men who hate and blame women for their personal lack of sexual/romantic success. They are extremely radical misogynists, alt-right and often nihilistic. Several mass shootings and terror attacks have been linked to the online subculture.
The online group specifically targets and radicalises vulnerable teenage boys through common sites such as YouTube or Reddit. The boys then get funnelled onto incel websites where they get further intrenched into the ideology of the group.
The “PEPE the frog’ is a cartoon meme that appears in thousands of different variations sometimes portraying extreme racist right-wing ideas in cartoon form. This is a tactic to make extreme ideas more palatable for young people and expose them to radical ideas slowly over time through humour.
If you notice your child looking at or sharing memes featuring PEPE it might be nothing but it could be a sign of radicalisation. Talk to your child about what it means to them and let them know how dangerous racist groups use the meme.
What is PEPE the frog?
Signs of radicalisation
The NSPCC have created this list:
isolating themselves from family and friends
unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
increased levels of anger
talking as if from a scripted speech
a sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
increased secretiveness, especially around internet use.
The NSPCC helpline provides support to adults worried about the radicalisation of a child. They will listen to you, help you recognise the signs and highlight local support services where available.
Online bullying, also known as cyber-bullying, is when one person bullies another using an online platform, such as social media or messaging services. Sometimes the bullying can be obvious, other times it’s subtler such as leaving someone out of a group chat. This kind of bullying is often repetitive in its nature. Due to the accessiblity and prevalence of social media and the internet it can be hard for young people to escape the harassment.
What does cyberbullying look like?
creating lies or sharing embarrassing photos/videos of someone online, usually on social media
sending rude, abusive or threatening messages to someone, these messages can also include images or videos
pretending to be someone and/or sending hurtful messages to people through fake accounts.
Cyberbullying often happens alongside in-person bullying, this means it is hard for children to escape it, even when they are 'safe' at home.
How to support someone who is
Help them block and report the person that is cyberbullying them.
Report any images or videos that have been posted online as part of the cyberbullying.
Make sure to tell the person being cyberbullied that it is not their fault.
Notify their school, but make sure to let the person know that you are going to do this.
Support them to keep a record of the cyberbullying, this is often needed if the bully's parents, the school or the police get involved.
Encourage them to take time away from the internet and do other things they enjoy.
This film, produced by Childnet International highlights the different ways that cyberbullying can happen and the consequences for the young person being targetted. This is a great video for parents to share with their children to start discussions about cyberbullying.
Consequenes and effects
Misinformation is a term used for false or inaccurate information, this could be simply getting the facts wrong or posting images that misrepresent the truth. Disinformation is false information which is deliberately intended to mislead, this includes creating fake statistics, photoshopping and lying.
Fake news is often used as an umbrella term for both terms.
The spread of Fake News leads to...
personal distrust in the validity of the media
manipulations of the democratic process
threads and platforms about harmful conspiracy theories and hate speech gaining popularity
lies discrediting reliable science
On the 8th of March 2023, Breck Foundation spoke to the Charlotte Project all about misinformation, disinformation and fake news.
Watch this recording to find out about examples of fake news going all the way back to BC, top tips for how to spot misinformation and where to go to get reliable information.
How to spot it
The Charlotte Project is designed to give young people tools to help them navigate the maze of news, blogs, social media posts and comments so that they can work out what’s real and what isn’t and give them the confidence to engage in current events.
Harmful & addictive content
The wellbeing of young people in the UK has been steadily declining. Children and young people in the UK live a large part of their life online, particularly on social media, and this is worsening their mental health. Studies have proven a strong link between higher levels of screen time and young people's increased risk of depression.
Designed to be addictive
Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook deliver content to users according to an algorithm that favours increasingly extreme content to retain engagement.
For example, once a child or young person has seen content relating to ‘self-harm’ they will be shown more, again and again, until they are viewing the most extreme and the most dangerous posts. The internet provides children with an addictive echo chamber of their own anxiety and destructive self-perceptions from which it is incredibly hard to escape, and which can lead to fatal outcomes.
Negative online content can be fatal: Molly Russell
In 2017, a 14-year-old girl called Molly Russell killed herself after viewing online material about anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.
In 2022, Coroner Andrew Walker declared that Molly Russell’s death was directly fuelled by the negative effects of online content she was recklessly exposed to by Meta and Pinterest.
The inquest officially stated that Molly died of "an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content".
The aim of the Molly Rose Foundation is suicide prevention, targeted towards young people under the age of 25. MRF wants to help reach those at risk of suicide and connect them to the help, support, and practical advice they need
Harmful cycle of social media use
This image is taken from our 5 year strategic plan.
Make sure teens have a daily schedule of when and where being on social media is acceptable
Be a good example to your children - if you display unhealthy social media habits your child is likely to copy
Set time limits on their usage of digital devices - there are settings in most phones that can enforce these
Have open and honest conversations with you children about social media and their relationships with it
Keep the lines of communication open so they will come to you with any issues or upsetting problems