The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: online abuse

Publication date 2020

Our briefing uses insight from NSPCC helpline contacts and Childline counselling sessions to highlight the impact of online abuse on children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic.

It focuses on perpetrators targeting children online for sexual abuse and contains quotes from children and young people that some people may find upsetting.

Key themes include:

  • the impact of online sexual abuse on children
  • online grooming
  • loneliness and self-esteem
  • using online platforms for the first time
  • sharing sexual images
  • sexual exploitation
  • speaking out about abuse.
Download The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: online abuse
Download the briefing (PDF)

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“I am twelve and I don’t have social media but I wanted to get online and chat to people since my friends had done it and told me it would be fun. It started off fine with the occasional ‘hi’ and then men started sending d*** pics and saying really personal things. I haven’t told anyone because if my parents found out they’d both freak out.”

Girl aged 12, Childline
“I have noticed my 12-year-old daughter has been constantly playing an online game called Rec room. We decided to check her computer and found sexualised messages and images which were sent between my child and two unknown adults (possibly one male and one female). The messages were disgusting and made me feel physically sick.”

Mother, NSPCC helpline

Please cite as: NSPCC (2020) The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: online abuse. Insight briefing. London: NSPCC.

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