CHILDLINE ADVICE: Online grooming counselling sessions rise by 35% as safety bill is delayed

Our Childline counsellors have seen a 35% increase in the number of counselling sessions about online grooming in the months since the Online Safety Bill has been delayed due to the government’s leadership contests.

"Children and young people can be exposed to dangerous material on social media without even looking for it."
"Children and young people can be exposed to dangerous material on social media without even looking for it."

We’re here for young people who need to talk about these matters, but we know that there are actions which could be taken on a national level that could help keep children safer online.

For four years, our colleagues in the NSPCC have been calling on the Government to introduce its Online Safety Bill, and crimes have continued to climb.

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Figures from the Home Office suggest that in just the few months since the Bill was delayed this summer, an estimated 13,000 new online child sex offences were recorded by police across England and Wales.

Last week, a petition organised by the NSPCC calling on the Bill to be passed quickly was handed to the Prime Minister.

In just four weeks, the online petition was signed by almost 50,000 people, including more than 1,550 from across the North East.

Children and young people can be exposed to dangerous material on social media without even looking for it.

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That material can lead to young people suffering emotional and mental anguish, and in some cases – as with Molly Russell – it can even tragically contribute to their death.

The Online Safety Bill would call every platform to put measures in place to protect children from harmful and distressing content like that which contributed to Molly’s death – not just the platforms that have a “significant” number of child users.

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Too many children are still experiencing grooming and sexual abuse online, but the Online Safety Bill can change that.

We want to see robust legislation brought in to keep children safer online.

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But whatever happens, our Childline counsellors will be available around the clock on 0800 1111 in order to ensure that any child or any young person with worries about anything they’ve experienced online can speak to someone about their concerns.

There’s also advice and support available on our website – www.childline.org.uk – for anyone who needs it.