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Unwanted contact and grooming: factsheet

Key points 

  • Online grooming, building an online relationship with a child in order to sexually abuse them, is illegal and should be reported to the police and the social media company. 
  • The eSafety Guide includes information on app features that can increase the risk of exposure to online predators, such as chat functions and location sharing. 
  • eSafety Education has resources to help teachers embed online abuse prevention in the curriculum. 
  • All students need to be taught specific technical, personal and social skills to help avoid online predators.

Facts and stats

Our research shows one in four young people have been contacted by someone they don’t know online. Usually this contact is harmless but at times it can be inappropriate, unwanted or unsafe. This can happen even if they initially welcomed the contact. 

At worst, the contact can involve grooming a child to sexually abuse them. This abuse can happen in a physical meeting, but it increasingly occurs online when young people are tricked or persuaded into sexual activity on webcams or into sending or posting sexual images. 

Watch this case study about unwanted contact.

According to eSafety research

38% of young people chat to strangers online

1 in 4 young people have been contacted by someone they don't know online

How to report and block

Reporting to police 

Online grooming can be reported to the Australian Federal Police Child Protection Operation. Find out more about making online grooming reports by clicking on the Report Abuse button on the ThinkUKnow website. 

For emergency situations call Triple Zero (000). For non-emergency situations that still require a police response, contact your local police station (131 444). 

Making a complaint to the social media company 

Sexually suggestive comments and messages or requests for intimate images should be reported to the social media service, even if the person or account is blocked so they can’t make contact again. Reporting this kind of contact makes the internet is safer for everyone. 

Find out how to report to the social media company and block accounts by checking The eSafety Guide.

Reporting to eSafety 

The eSafety Cyber Report team investigates illegal and harmful content. They give priority to content such as child sexual abuse material, pro-terrorist content and content that promotes, incites or instructs in crime or violence.

App features that increase the risk 

The eSafety Guide includes information to help teachers and students choose safer apps and report and block unwanted contact and sexual approaches.

Messaging/online chat 

Many apps, games and social networks offer a chat function, using either voice or text. Messages are often short, allowing other participants to respond quickly. The communication can be one-on-one or involve a group of people. It may be between participants who are known to each another or strangers. Depending on the service and the settings chosen by the user, the messages or chat history may be publicly available online. 

Apps used for chat include: Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Omegle, Whatsapp, Snapchat

Location sharing

Location sharing is the ability to let other people know where you are, using satellite technology (GPS) or other methods. Many apps, devices and online services allow you to share your location at a moment in time, for example if you ‘check-in’ somewhere or as an automatic function. Others track your movement between locations in real time, when your device is online or while you are using the app or service. Depending on the settings available, you may be able to select whether or not to share your location, who to share it with and when to share it.

Apps used for location sharing include: Snapchat, Spotafriend, PokemonGo 

eSafety resources — Unwanted contact and grooming

The eSafety website includes advice for kids, young people or adults about dealing with unwanted contact.

Primary classroom resources

Hector’s world (animated series)

Middle Primary

Keep it Sweet Online (slide deck) 

Upper Primary 

Cybersmart Detectives (animation)

Lower Secondary 

Young and eSafe (videos and lesson plans)

Upper Secondary 

Online dating (video)
Emily's story (video and web content) 

Resources for parents

Taming the technology (advice on parental controls, safe searching and device filters)

Prevent and manage unwanted contact and grooming 

From Early Years to Year 2 students should build skills in:

  • recognise emotional reactions to different online interactions 
  • categorise safe and unsafe behaviours online e.g. showing private body parts 
  • begin to identify ways to set up apps and games to prevent unwanted contact 
  • recall help seeking strategies such as telling an adult.

Between Years 3 to 6, students should:

  • identify warning signs that an online friend might be unsafe to talk to 
  • recognise situations that might increase their exposure to inappropriate contact from adults e.g. switching from a public conversation in an online forum to chatting privately 
  • analyse the benefits and risks of different privacy settings and adjusting them in specific ways e.g. having a public YouTube channel vs your contact being listed publicly on WhatsApp 
  • practise strategies for refusing to engage in unsafe behaviours online such as requests for nude images or sexual advances 
  • describe how to report grooming offences on social media 
  • understand the value of online support services to help them understand and process instances of sexual contact online.

From Years 7 to 10 students should:

  • understand the nature and legislation relating to grooming and sexual harassment online 
  • recognise their own emotional responses to grooming and sexual harassment situations online 
  • regularly review and update their privacy settings and adjust them in specific ways e.g. having a public YouTube channel vs your contact being listed publicly on WhatsApp 
  • locate a variety of sources of support if they experience grooming or sexual harassment online.

Visit the Online Safety Curriculum Connection to:

  • identify more content in the Australian Curriculum that supports the teaching and learning of online safety 
  • access a range of interdisciplinary resources developed to support the teaching and learning of online safety.

Appendix A: Curriculum links

 

Visit the Online Safety Curriculum Connection to:

  • identify more content in the Australian Curriculum that supports the teaching and learning of online safety
  • access a range of interdisciplinary resources developed to support the teaching and learning of online safety.

Appendix B: Research and useful links 

Young people and social cohesion eSafety Commissioner

Unwanted contact and grooming eSafety Commissioner

Online grooming ThinkUKnow