Types of Online Abuse


Child grooming refers to actions deliberately undertaken by an adult with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity or exploitation of the child.

This can be done through various means of internet communication systems such as:

  • Social Networks (eg. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc)
  • Instant Messaging (eg. IM, MSN, etc)
  • Chatrooms (eg. Skype, Yahoo, MIRC, etc)

In a number of cases young people have thought they have met somebody really special online, but they are in fact talking to an adult who has a sexual interest in them. These adults and older adolescents target children and young people with the aim of making them feel loved enough to want to meet the adult in the real world.

In most cases, online groomers want to be seen as a trusted peer or caring older person. Sometimes they might pose as someone needing help or in distress, which makes the victim less suspicious of the groomer's actions and intentions. Groomers will typically want you to keep part, if not all, of the relationship secret. Conversations might often focus on the meaning of "true love," involve talking about sexual issues, or include requests for photos and web cam sex.


This involves the use of ICT, particularly mobile phones and the internet, deliberately to upset, threaten and intimidate someone else.

This type of bullying can affect someone not just at school, but at home as well. Because it takes place in the virtual world, it goes beyond the boundaries at school, and during school hours. It can happen anytime and can make someone feel upset or threatened even in his / her own home.

So, how is ‘cyberbullying’ different to bullying?

Basically, cyberbullying is an extension of bullying that goes on at school but the person
who is bullying uses new technology such as websites, text messages, social networking sites and emails to embarrass, demean, harass, intimidate, or threaten other people.

Bullying also involves:
  • An imbalance of power - for example a group ganging up on an individual or someone much more confident picking on someone who is less confident
  • Repeatedly picking on someone over the phone, email, website or online forum (for example, sending messages to the same person over and over)

Sexting/Self-made videos or photos

What is sexting?

Sexting is sending nude or semi-nude photos by mobile phone, or posting sexual images on social networking sites like
eg. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.

Often, teens send explicit images to a partner or friends for their eyes only. Or in a moment of blurred judgment, they let someone take pictures of them that they might not otherwise agree to.

What can potentially happen next is

  • Harassment or cyberstalking: threats to share the images
  • Outing: posting or sharing the images publicly
  • Impersonation: pretending to be the person who created the image and posting or sharing it publicly, often with the suggestion that the person is interested in sexual contact.

Many young people are unaware that 'sexting' can be a criminal offence when the subject of a 'sext' is a minor, even if the person committing the offence is also a minor. A young person found to have a naked or semi-naked photo of someone under 18 on their phone or computer, even if they delete it, can be charged with child pornography. They can also be charged even if it is a photo of them and they agreed to the photo being sent.