Sexual communication with children online


This module aims to help you explore and gain understanding of:

  • Your motivation for engaging sexually with children online
  • How your behaviour progressed into sexual communication
  • How you might have justified your behaviour

Download module as a PDF.

What do we mean by ‘sexual communication’?

Following new legislation in April 2017 in England and Wales (and existing legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland), an adult is committing a criminal offence if they intentionally communicate with someone under the age of 16 for the purposes of sexual gratification.

Sexual communication with a child is often referred to as online grooming. It can take many forms and with different motivations. All forms are regarded as child sexual abuse. They are illegal and cause harm.

Some people communicate sexually with a child or children online because they find it sexually arousing. Other people do so in order to persuade children to send them sexual images or videos of themselves. Some people communicate sexually with children online because they want to meet the child offline in order to sexually interact with them. These behaviours can overlap, so that it’s not always clear at the outset what someone really wants from their sexual communication.

People’s behaviour varies too. For example, many people engaging in this behaviour report having sexual contact with lots of children online, and sending sexual pictures of themselves to the children, too. Other people may communicate sexually with only one child.

Some introduce the topic of sex very quickly, whereas others will engage in ‘grooming behaviours’, where they spend time building rapport and establishing trust with a child before the issue of sex is raised.

Below are some examples of people who have engaged in sexual communication with children online, which show the different aspect of the behaviour.


Considering these examples, did you recognise any of your own behaviours? Were you able to relate to any aspects of the person’s situation?


It is very important to us that this website is as effective as possible in supporting people to make important changes in their lives. The most important feedback we can receive is from users of the website themselves, to help us understand if the site is really helping people to change their online behaviour. We would therefore be very grateful if you could spare about 10-15 minutes to complete our anonymous survey. If you do not have time to complete the survey now, please do come back to it later. There are other links to the survey throughout the site.

To take the survey, please click here. Thank you. 


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