Hotline & reporting abuse

Things can go wrong online as well as offline. Your son or daughter might be upset by an abusive message on Facebook or they might want to stop subscribing to a premium rate text message service.

Maybe they have come across an inappropriate website during a Google search or they’re worried about the way another player is treating them when they’re on their games console. So it’s important to know how you can report any specific concerns you might have to your child’s mobile, social networking or games provider, search engines, websites, the police and other authorities.

As with any parental concerns, you’ll have your own way of dealing with them of course. If your son is being bullied by a fellow pupil during an online game, you might decide to speak to his school about it or if you find out that your teenage daughter and her friends have been using sexual language on a social networking site, your first step might be to discuss it with her so you can find out what’s really going on.

While it can be difficult to know what to report and what not to report – a young person might not even consider abusive online comments to be bullying (they might just see it as ‘drama’) and digital flirting might just be considered part of growing up, for example – it’s important that you report any serious concerns about things like harassment, child sexual abuse images and grooming to the relevant technology providers and other organisations (including the police, if necessary) so that they can take action.

By making a formal report, you could help to improve the experience for all users of that service and also help to protect other young people from worry and harm. For example, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) processes around 40,000 reports of suspected criminal content from the public each year, helping it to reduce the availa