Online sexual abuse: Safeguarding leads brace for rise in disclosures

Safeguarding leads in schools are on alert for disclosures of online sexual abuse after a surge in reported incidents following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Children feeling lonely during the Covid-19 lockdown were at heightened risk of online grooming and sexual abuse.

A briefing from the NSPCC published last month (NSPCC, 2020) reports that Childline has seen an 11 per cent increase in counselling sessions about online sexual abuse – from an average of 207 a month before lockdown to 230 a month now.

The NSPCC helpline also saw a 60 per cent increase in contacts from people with concerns about children experiencing online sexual abuse, from an average of 117 per month before lockdown to an average of 187 per month since lockdown. The charity warns that lonely children sought company and support online during lockdown, often from people they did not know. For many children, it was the first time they had ventured onto some of these online platforms.

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