13 August 2015
During the summer holidays, a lot of young people spend more time online, out with friends or home alone than they do normally, especially if their parents or carers work full or part time.
Abusers can use the increased freedom that young people experience during the summer holidays to begin grooming and exploiting them. Though it can be difficult to know when someone is trying to groom you, being aware of the warning signs and taking steps to keep yourself safe can make a big difference.
Parties and gatherings
During the summer holidays a lot of young people go to more parties and gatherings. Abusers can use these get–togethers to find new people to target, making friends with them, gaining their trust and then exploiting them.
To make sure that you don’t become a target, stick with friends that you know and trust at a party and make sure you leave when they do. If there’s someone there that is putting pressure on you to give them your contact details or encouraging you to do things you’re not comfortable with, tell someone you trust and, if necessary, leave straight away.
Before you go to a gathering or party, always tell your parents, carers or another adult you trust where you’re going and where you plan to stay.
As more and more people use apps like Snapchat, Whatsapp and Vine to communicate, it gets easier and easier for abusers to use their phones to find potential targets.
If you’ve met someone through the apps on your smartphone, make sure you don’t give them any of your contact details. There’s no way to know if they are who they say they are and a lot of abusers take advantage of this to start building a relationship with their targets.
It’s also very important that you don’t send any photos or videos to people you meet through apps. Once they’ve been sent, there’s no way to get images back and you can’t stop your contact from sharing them with other people.
In general, the same rules go for people you meet online. Never give them any contact details and don’t send photos or videos.
If you want to meet up with someone you’ve met online, tell an adult where you’re going and who you’re meeting, take a friend along and meet in a public place.
Remember that a lot of abusers will try to build up trust before they exploit young people, so be careful around new people until you can be sure they are not trying to take advantage of you.
To find out more about staying safe during the summer holidays or to talk to someone about sexual exploitation, call the Rose Project on 0808 800 1037.