What should you do if you have been groomed?

Solicitation for sexual purposes (grooming) refers to a situation where an adult attempts to get a child into a situation where he or she may be subjected to sexual abuse. Grooming can take place online and in real life. On this website, we refer to such an adult as the “perpetrator”. Grooming can include the perpetrator asking the child questions about sex, getting the child to send intimate or sexually explicit pictures of themselves or sending such pictures of themselves to the child. The perpetrator may also try to involve the child in a video call or a physical meeting in which they will sexually abuse the child.

Grooming is colloquially referred to by adults and children using different terms, such as catfishing.

  • Stop the communication. The perpetrator may try to make you feel guilty or intimidate you to get you to continue with the communication. Do not reply to them.
  • Tell a safe adult what has happened. The safe adult can be your parent or an adult at your school or other educational institution, for example. However, if you do not want to tell an adult about what happened, please still follow the instructions below. It is important that you get help.
  • Take screenshots of the conversations you had with the perpetrator, the pictures you received and sent, and their profile. Hold on to the screenshots until you can pass them on to the police.
  • Report the incident to the police or to the Hotline (Nettivihje). The Finnish Hotline will always inform the police of any illegal activities.
  • Remember that what happened is not your fault. A person who does this can be skilled at manipulating people. Furthermore, it is easy to create a fake profile online and on social media.
  • If you need someone to talk to outside your home, you can find a list of organisations you can contact on this page. You can also receive advice and support on how to tell your parent about what happened.

Grooming can be difficult to detect. Therefore, you should tell a safe adult or submit a report to the Finnish Hotline in the event of any communication that feels strange or disgusting. It is up to the adults to help you and sort out the situation.

What should you do if your nude photo has gone viral?

In Finland, it is illegal to distribute a nude photograph of a minor, i.e. a person under the age of 18. If your photo is being distributed, you can get help.

  • Tell a safe adult what has happened. The safe adult can be your parent or an adult at your school or other educational institution, for example. However, if you do not want to tell an adult about what happened, please still follow the instructions below. It is important that you get help.
  • Take a screenshot of the incident and report the image or the profile that distributed it to the administrator. Keep the screenshots until you can pass them on to the police.
  • Report the incident to the police or to the Hotline (Nettivihje). The Finnish Hotline will always inform the police of any illegal activities.
  • Remember that what happened is not your fault. Even if you sent the photo to a person you trusted and the photo went viral, it is not your fault. It is the distributors of the image who are acting irresponsibly and illegally.
  • If you need someone to talk to outside your home, you can find a list of organisations you can contact at this page. You can also receive advice and support on how to tell your parent about what happened.

How to stay safe online?

  • Remember your passwords. Protect your mobile phone, tablet or computer with a password. Always keep the device closed or password-protected when it is out of your sight. Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
  • Keep your camera closed. Keep your device’s camera covered or closed when you are not using it.
  • It is not easy to remove any content uploaded to the web. It is worth considering whether some of your photos and videos could be published only to a limited audience or whether your account should be kept private.
  • Photos can easily end up in the wrong hands. An intimate image shared to a partner in confidence can later be distributed further. Always think carefully about with whom and what kind of photos you share. If, despite the risks, you want to share photos of yourself, consider how you could minimise the risks. For example, could you crop the images so that you could be identified in case the photos go viral later?
  • Use discretion when editing a photo of someone else. While editing may feel like simple fun to you, it can be perceived as bullying by others.
  • Remember that it is illegal to distribute any nude photos of children or young people. Never share someone else’s intimate or sexually offensive photos or show them to a friend. It is always important to tell an adult if you see nude photos of children or young people circulating on social media or elsewhere online.
  • You should keep your personal details to yourself. It’s never a good idea to share your personal details, such as your address and telephone number, in public. You are not allowed to share the personal details of others, either.
  • You are in control of your own affairs, also online. Don’t let anyone pressure or tempt you online or on social media into doing something you don’t want to do. You can always say NO and leave the situation.
  • Be careful. There is plenty of good stuff online, but it’s important to keep in mind that not everything is what it seems. It’s easy to create a fake online profile. If you meet new people online, don’t meet them live, even via webcam, without first discussing it with your parent. If someone is strongly against you telling your parent, you should be even more careful and tell a safe adult regardless.

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Save the Children Finland and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.