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Online grooming

hi,

so, im 13 and i added some guys on snapchat. they were really nice and then we started to trade nudes, and we promised we wouldn‘t save them, and no one has, and i really like them but i dont know wether i will get myself or them into trouble. i dont mind sending pics, but i cant talk to them all the time and im scared they might leave. ive been learning about online grooming at school and i dont know what to do. i dont know wether i am being groomed or not. plz help. me, i dont know what to do.

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

As soon as you send a nude picture online, you lose control over that image. It can also be dangerous as you also don't know what someone's real intentions are and although they might seem harmless, it could be part of a bigger plan.

Grooming is when an adult or older person makes friends with a young person - often online but it can be in person too – and then pressures them into doing something sexual. Usually they are friendly and do their best to make the young person feel comfortable. They might share secrets, send gifts, listen and support the young person - pretending that they want to be friends.

It's okay for an adult and child to be friends - adults can be good mentors and role models for young people - but it is unusual for an adult to want to be close friends with someone a lot younger. If they are asking for things from you, like pictures, and want you to keep your relationship secret from friends and family, these are signs they might want to do things that aren't okay.

The people you have added on Snapchat should want to be your friends whether you’re sending nudes or not. If you stopped sending them and they stop talking to you, they were never interested in the first place. It's important to put your feelings and your safety first, and not let someone use your friendship to get something out of you.

Even if they are your age and you’re both sharing nudes, it’s important to be aware of the risks. Sharing nudes when you are under 16 can can get you both into legal trouble. You also don’t know who might save the picture and who else they might share it with.

If you want to talk more about this with one of our counsellors - they won't judge you and will keep what you say confidential.

I hope my letter has helped a bit, thanks for writing in.

Take care.

Sam

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