Talking to your child about online sexual harassment.

A guide for parents:

Talking to our children about this issue can be hard.

Parents can sometimes feel uncomfortable, not just because of the sexualised nature of the topic, but also because their children know more about technology than they do. For mums, dads and carers who grew up without smart phones, this whole world can feel bewildering.

But children want to talk to their parents and carers about this. We know this because they’ve told us. And that’s what is at the heart of this guidance, which has been put together by the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza DBE.

To develop this guide a group of 16–21 year‑olds were bought together and asked to talk about what they think parents should know, and what they should say to their children when talking about sexualised bullying and the pressures of growing up online; what was helpful…and what wasn’t.

This guidance is based on the voices of young people giving adults their tips on how to tackle this subject.

This guide serves as a starter kit – an entry point for parents and carers who want to talk to their children but need a bit of support to understand the issues and to start a conversation.

The strong message from young people is talk early, talk often.

Children want an age‑appropriate conversation that evolves over time in line with their growing maturity.

The advice to parents and carers is to create the culture before the crisis.

Children have told us they want their mums and dads to create a safe, judgment‑free space for them to talk about these issues.

It’s better to do that before you hit a problem rather than trying to create that mood while you’re dealing with one.

It takes a lot of bravery for a child to share their experiences of abuse or harassment. Things that might feel uncomfortable to begin with, will feel less so over time.

 “Parents and carers need to grasp the nettle as they support their children navigating this complex part of growing up. Our children have told us it’s what they want. This guide will help you get there.” 

Dame Rachel de Souza DBE, Children’s Commissioner