If your child is being investigated for getting into trouble online

Your first steps to getting the right support and advice for parents and carers If your child is being investigated for getting into trouble online.

First reactions

For most parents and carers, discovering that their child is being investigated after engaging in illegal sexual behaviour online is shocking and distressing. Many will fear for their child’s welfare and be confused about what to do.

It is likely you will have some urgent questions about how you can help your child and what might happen next. It is very important to seek appropriate help for you and the young person you look after. Knowing who you can talk to is the first step to getting the right help and support.

You can talk to someone

The Stop It Now! helpline is run by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a leading charity working to prevent the sexual abuse of children. The helpline is staffed by trained advisors, who will listen and offer confidential and impartial advice.

They offer support and help to the parents of children and young people who’ve got into trouble online. When you call, you don’t have to give your name or identifying details if you don’t want to.

Calling the helpline is an important first step towards working out what to do next, to help your child and others around you.

I don’t have the words to thank you enough for the enormous impact you’ve had on all our lives. It’s quite incredible that having spent so little time with you, you have had such a profound effect on all our lives and we thank you for your patience, empathy, professionalism, understanding, determination and lack of judgement. In the nicest way, I hope we will not see you again but rest assured, our short time with you will never be forgotten. 

You might feel there is no one you can talk to… but you can pick up the phone and call us on 0808 1000 900, send us an anonymous message or use our live chat service.

You can also download a pdf of the information on this page.

What to do if your child is being investigated for getting into trouble online?

When confronted with this behaviour, most people initially feel anger, shock and confusion – or just numbness. This is quickly followed by urgent questions about how this will affect their family, their relationships, their job – and sometimes how they are going to cope with the possible legal process, media interest and potential stigma. The young person being investigated is often very ashamed and might be withdrawn or angry, sometimes at risk of self harm. Almost everyone has a need to know what is likely to happen next.

The advisors on our Stop It Now! helpline will give you advice and support. They can also talk to you about our Inform Young People programme, which is designed for young people who have got into trouble online. We offer one initial meeting followed by up to five sessions with the young person and their family tailored to their needs. Each session is delivered by an experienced practitioner either on the phone or face-to-face.

The programme aims to:

  • Provide information, advice and support to the young person and their parents or carers
  • Alleviate the young person’s (and parents’/carers’) distress and anxiety arising from their concerning sexual behaviour coming to light
  • Give practical advice on strategies to prevent a re-occurrence or escalation of the concerning sexual behaviour – including aids to
    responsible use of technology
  • Give easy to understand information about the law in this context, especially as it applies to young people
  • Help more open communication between the young person and their parents or carers

We can deliver the programme free of charge if certain criteria are met, but we also welcome donations to support the costs of delivery. Please call us on 0808 1000 900 to discuss.

Case study

Read what happened when Bobby was referred to the Inform Young People programme.

What families say about the Inform Young People programme

Here are some of the reasons people have supported us:

“Absolutely brilliantly delivered in a safe and warm environment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than it to address the offending. These expectations were exceeded, it was more individualised than expected.” A young man who had been accessing sexual images of under 18s online


“Overall, the advice given has been used and I have noted positive changes in Peter and our family.” A father


What should I do now?

The first thing you should do is to call the Stop It Now! helpline.

You might be feeling angry, shocked, confused or even bewildered at what has happened but you don’t have to deal with this alone.

Our highly experienced helpline advisors can give you practical advice and talk you through the complicated and difficult issues that you are facing right now. They will be able to help with the questions you will have about the behaviour of your child.

Our helpline advisors will also be able to give you the information and advice you will need regarding the criminal justice system process and the possible involvement of children’s services.

They’ll give you the support you need to get through this difficult time.

The helpline is free and confidential. When you call, you don’t have to give any identifying information such as your family name, address or telephone number.

If you’d rather not call, you can contact us through our confidential messaging service or use our live chat service. Your email address will not be displayed when you email, making the service confidential. Due to high demand, we can’t offer an immediate response by email. If your enquiry is more urgent, please call the helpline.

You can also take a look at our Parents Protect website, which has a pack for parents whose child is being investigated for getting into trouble online.

You can also download a pdf of the information on this page.

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