Cybertauma – Online abuse.

Every parent’s nightmare


Teen -phoneDo you know what the terms ‘Helicopter’, ‘FOMO’ and ‘POS , mean in text speak ? –  If not read on..

Look at any teenager in the street and you will find that they are ‘glued’ to their smart phone or tablet.

‘Generation Millennium’ a term used, for those born on or after the year 2000, have never known a world without Facebook, google, YouTube, twitter, tumbler – The list of social media sites is literally endless.

Young people live in a connected world which is becoming, at least electronically smaller every day.

Added to that the smart technology in devices which can log your exact location down to a couple of meters, then as the saying goes ‘Houston’ we have a problem.

Cybertrauma is a term coined by researcher and child psychotherapist Cath Knibbs ,who lectures passionately on the subject as well as helping children and young people who are survivors of online grooming and abuse.

She outlines some of the techniques predators use which includes;

  • Adults ‘pretending’ to be children and hiding behind fake online profiles. This technique is used as a way of ‘friending’ young people and gaining their trust.
  • Sexting, on line ‘friends’ asking for explicit pictures to be taken and sent sometimes referred to as ‘Dicking’.
  • Sending links to pornography, child abuse, beheading videos, death and murder.
  • Asking for explicit sexual acts to be recorded and sent via skype or periscope
  • Video’s showing cruelty to animals.

Sometimes young people ‘stumble’ on these sites, however peer pressure plays a big part as young people tend to be curious about the world.

Blackmail is a common technique where the predator will groom a young person, maybe asking for an explicit photo, then threaten to circulate it on social media or websites unless they comply to more extreme and explicit images.

To give you an idea of how fast images travel around the web, this picture of Madonna falling off stage at 2015 brit awards went viral within seconds.Brit wards fall The image was photo-shopped and altered thousands of times, appearing websites and social media platforms.

What we know

Research in to brain plasticity, is informing us that exposure to pornography, or abusive images alters the ‘wiring of the brain’ which effects how we interact and feel about others .This can lead to extreme behaviours including, anger, violent behaviour, sexual dis-inhibition, self-harm to name but a few.

So what can be done?

The first thing to do is to have a conversation with your child, explaining to them the dangers and the techniques used by sexual predator’s groom and abuse online.

The social media profile of a 15-year-old boy who lives in the next town, could be a 45-year-old man who lives down your street!

A way round this is to tell your children only to friend those people they actually know in the real world, and not to accept any friendship requests from anyone they do not know personally, no matter how ‘cute’ they look!

  • Lock down Facebook pages so casual viewers cannot acquire information about your child.
  • Switch off the smartphones GPS, this will stop the phone being traceable via social media.
  • Switch off ‘Geotagging’ this effectively links any picture to where it was taken via the GPs unit in your phone.
  • Most mobile phone companies will have a ‘child filter’ when switched on it stops anyone searching for explicit terms and will block any website it deems is unsuitable, ask your phone provider.
  • Internet Service Providers (ISP) are asking new account holders to ‘opt in’ to receiving pornography via a web search, this means that you can ‘opt out’, effectively meaning that any search made for key words with inappropriate names will not return any results.

if you child has been a victim of online grooming , talk to them  and if necessary gain access to therapy for them and yourself .

Finally Helicopter’, ‘FOMO’ and ‘POS ?

Helicopter a text term used by young people as a signal to each other that a parent is present, as is POS – parent over shoulder and FOMO –  Fear of Missing Out, which is what keeps young people and a lot of adults glued to their device!

How to report inappropriate content  

The websites below are based in the UK can be contacted to report inappropriate content or suspected child grooming across the internet.

© Rory Lees-Oakes Dip.Coun – Tameside Counselling.

T: 07425 163870


Meet the Author

2 comments… add one
  • shahnaz Apr 26, 2016, 8:02 am

    Thank You Rory for this valuable article. It is important for our work and reminds me of many cases, where vulnerable young girls were driven to sudden Psychotic episodes due to prolonged usage of internet etc via cell phones. We suspected such a thing, but due sociocultural barriers or perhaps fear if blackmailer/ abuser stopped the patient from giving the complete history. Even service providers did not probe in this direction as we lack scientific and other relevant data. But, not anymore. So please keep on building your passion. Proud of You 🙂

    • Rory Apr 30, 2016, 12:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment , this is an area we must become more aware of !

Leave a Comment