Fact Sheet - For youth aged 15-17 - Online Grooming

Youth aged 15–17

Online grooming: what it is and how to protect yourself

What is online grooming?

It is when someone becomes friends with a minor online in order to control and take advantage of them for a sexual purpose, whether online or in-person. You need to be prepared, because it is a growing issue in Canada — and it can put you in real danger.

How does it happen?

All encounters are different, but it can happen like this:

  • Someone approaches you online — it can even be someone you know
  • They may use a fake profile to pretend to be someone they’re not
  • They try to build a connection with you by talking about things you’re interested in
  • They may give you gifts or compliments
  • They may exploit existing relationships with your friends or online groups
  • Once they gain your trust, they will sexualize the relationship by talking about sex or trying to engage in sexual touching or activity
  • They may even ask you to meet in person

What can you do?

  • Use your privacy settings
  • Be aware that they may be someone you know and think you can trust, even someone you think you are in a relationship with
  • Keep personal information private — like your name, phone number, where you are, and details about your life
  • Trust your gut and never do anything that makes you uncomfortable — it’s always your choice and it is never too late to say no
  • Never arrange to meet someone you don’t know or do know but have suspicions about
  • Block or break off contact
  • Tell your parent or another safe adult
  • If safe to do so, keep a record for evidence
  • Report it to Cybertip.ca
  • Know it is not your fault — it’s not ok for adults to give sexual attention to teens

It’s ok to interact with people online, but not for them to make you feel uncomfortable.

Learn more at Canada.ca/childexploitation

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