Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones. Children and young people may experience cyberbullying, grooming, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or emotional abuse.
Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know, as well as from strangers. Online abuse may be part of abuse that is taking place in the real world (for example bullying or grooming). Or it may be that the abuse only happens online (for example persuading children to take part in sexual activity online).
Children can feel like there is no escape from online abuse – abusers can contact them at any time of the day or night, the abuse can come into safe places like their bedrooms, and images and videos can be stored and shared with other people.
Developing healthy brains
Every child needs loving, nurturing care from the adults around them if they are to develop the healthy brains they need to be able to thrive and this is even more important in the first few years of life. The toxic stress that abuse causes means that a child's healthy brain development can be impaired.
The good news is our brains aren't fully formed until around the age of 25, so there are plenty of opportunities to help young people develop the skills they need and to overcome the impact of earlier toxic stress.
Watch this short film to find out more about the impact toxic stress has on a child’s healthy brain development.