Help! My child has a problem

When your child comes to you with an online sexual abuse problem, you may not know how to respond., part of the Online Child Abuse Expertise Office (EOKM), gives seven tips on how to talk to a child or young person about sexual abuse problems.

Date 2023-03-03 Author Dutch Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic love, relationships, sexuality (online), media literacy/education, online reputation, potentially harmful content, sexting, sextortion Audience children and young people, parents and carers
Person using laptop is a website about online sexual abuse. They can help if you have or have had to deal with online sexual abuse. You will also find information about what it is, how to prevent it and what to do if it has happened to you or a person you know. 

For example, if nude images of you are distributed online, if someone is sexually approaching you online or because you are blackmailed with naked images. 

  1. Stay calm - You may well be panicking or experiencing emotions of anger because of the situation your child is experiencing. Still, it's important to stay calm. Your child needs you for support, and is more likely to panic if you do, too.
  2. Do not judge - When your child has done something that you warned about before, it could be challenging for children to come to you. Children often feel ashamed when dealing with online sexual abuse. Additionally, if their actions are answered by anger or disapproval of their behaviour, there’s a good chance this will damage the trust, leading to your child to not wanting to come to you the next time something happens. Have a conversation with your child and try not to judge. 
  3. Don't worry - Children often blame themselves when dealing with online sexual abuse. They are ashamed that they sent a nude photo, or that they fell for someone's manipulation. It is important to emphasize that this is normal behaviour. Exchanging nude photos is part of normal sexual development. People who abuse children on the internet often do so in a very devious and manipulative way. So, it is not your child's fault that something happened to them, the fault lies with the person abusing your child.
  4. Look for solutions together with your child - provides practical tips on online sexual abuse. You can go through the advice module 'Check your situation' together with your child. There you will receive step-by-step advice. You can also read all our information at your leisure. 
  5. Get in touch - Do you want us to think along with you in your situation? Please contact the helpline staff via or 020 – 261 5275 (in The Netherlands) 
  6. Continue to support your child - We know that some children keep what they have experienced to themselves for a very long time, even if it happened a long time ago. Continue to monitor whether your child is doing well. Changes in behaviour, lack of interest in school, difficulty concentrating or changing appetite are indications that something is bothering your child. Then start the conversation with your child. Also, take a look at our worrying tips. This page contains tips on how to deal with worrying now that there are fewer distractions due to the corona measures. 
  7. Find appropriate help - Your child may need psychological assistance after online sexual abuse. Your child can tell his or her story to the GP and refer you to appropriate help. 

More information 

Find out more about the work of the Dutch Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.  

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