How to report abuse
Whether you are worried about something you've seen online or directly affected yourself, below are the next steps you can take.
worried about online sexual abuse or harassment
If you have seen images of child abuse (including images of a nude child) of a child unknown to you online:
report the images to the Internet Watch Foundation LINK - IWF - Welcome to the IWF (the IWF is the UK’s leading organisation for the removal of online child abuse imagery and reporting here has the best chance of removing the material from the internet. If you see the same image or images in different locations online, make a report for each online location.)
report the images to the platform or website where you have seen them.
If you see a child being sexually abused or sexually harassed online (including abuse which appears to be self-generated by any child or young person):
report the abuse or harassment to Police Scotland (by calling 101, or 999 if the abuse is happening live online).
report the abuse to CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Unit of the National Crime Agency) https://www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting/
report the abuse or harassment to the platform or website where you have seen it.
if images of the child being abused (not harassed) have been published online - report images to the Internet Watch Foundation LINK - IWF - Welcome to the IWF
If your child or a child known to you has been subjected to sexual abuse or sexual harassment:
report to Police Scotland
report the incident/abuse to your child’s school (this step is very important as often multiple pupils within a social group or location online are targeted simultaneously but this is only discovered if all parents report to the school). Your child’s school will normally arrange for support for your child through local support services.
report the abusing account/accounts to the platform. Keep copies of any evidence available, including any and all messages from any abusing accounts if possible. Do not let any lack of evidence stop you from making the reports in the steps above however, as all platforms currently keep past messages – although they may have to be legally required to disclose them as part of an investigation.
report to the IWF
seek support for your child (if it has not already been provided as a result of steps 1 and 2 above). Local child protection services are usually best placed to provide support of this nature – reach out to your local child protection charities or services. If your child can benefit from phone support contact Childline at any time.
worried about online bullying or harassment
If you are worried you are being cyber-bullied or worried for a friend or someone else you have seen being targeted online, you are not alone.
Cyberbullying is the most common form of online harm experienced by children and young people. In most situations involving bullying the Police will not become involved unless the bullying has become very serious (significant harassment) or involves hate speech. However, cyberbullying is an incredibly serious problem, and whenever it happens it needs to be immediately addressed and not pushed away/hidden where it can get worse.
Any bullying can have a significant impact on a child’s mental health and wellbeing. It is never acceptable/to be tolerated or looked on as a part of growing up.
If you are being bullied online, or you know or have witnessed someone else being bullied online, please report it immediately.
Bullying worsens because the person who is targeted cannot defend themselves, so you/they need support.
If you suspect the person bullying you is someone from your school then try to make sure that the person you speak to is either a trusted adult at your school or can help you speak to your school. You can visit Respect Me, Scotland’s anti-bullying service, for more help and information respectme | Scotland's anti-bullying servicerespectme.