This is a genuine account which has been written by the parent of a child who experienced online grooming, sexting and bullying.
Today I am going to try and put into words some of the emotions my family, particularly my daughter and myself would go through when she found herself involved with grooming, sexting and bullying all in that order.
She must have been going through hell, the worst thing is it would take me months to find out!
I didn't think it was possible to feel the pain, humiliation, and frustration that I would endure for the next few months. My daughter's whole personality changed but we put it down to the fact it was side effects from very strong medication she was on for a skin complaint.
My daughter had just become interested in boys and she seemed to be texting one from school on a regular basis. Over the course of about a year he would gain her confidence even although they were no more than friends on Facebook, they didn't hang about together or stand and chat at school. I actually saw the first few texts asking for pictures in her bikini that summer then I would be shocked to see a picture on her phone of a man's private parts. I was horrified and asked who the hell did she know that would send her that, she convinced me it was spam.
I actually thought it was maybe some of her friends for a laugh which I really didn't find funny.
This was it moving up a gear. He would start sending her pictures of himself to build her trust to send nudes back which I never in my wildest dreams would never have believed.
That summer really must have been tough for her. She found out he shared the pictures with anyone he had on Facebook. It breaks my heart firstly what she done and then to think she would try and cope in the hope it would go away. She managed to keep it a secret for 3 months.
Unfortunately, one of the boys who received the pictures his girlfriend saw them, again unfortunately they were all in different years at the same school. This girl was a bully and called my daughter names on a daily basis, she also had a sidekick who would join in.
I was concerned about my daughter's schoolwork and the change in her nature. It would all come to light when I phoned the police to say my daughter was being bullied. The reason I phoned was more of a chat as it was late at night, and I couldn't phone the school.
Two female officers would tell me what had been happening. The disbelief, hurt, anger and humiliation I felt all rolled into one was unbearable. Unfortunately, the boy who received the pictures would get the blame as my daughter hadn't told the police or myself the full extent of the story. We went to the school first thing in the morning, they were absolutely brilliant, but the girl still made my daughter's life a misery, not only was everyone talking and laughing about her, but she also had to try and keep out this girl’s way.
A few days later my daughter contacted CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection). The school had told her about them. Two male police officers arrived in no time to deal with the complaint which had been made. These two guys were brilliant and would help immensely. My daughter then told me the right story. It took a few days as all we had done was shout and really, we were out of our depth as a family on how to deal with this. The boy to blame had moved away and was at another school. He came back to the area to visit, and I was lucky enough to see him walking down the street. I approached him and asked him why he would want to ruin our lives. He first of all denied it but I reminded him "hey babe, send me pictures of you in your bikini". He then said my daughter shouldn't have sent the pictures, my answer you shouldn't have asked her to! I finished by asking if he had a sister which he did. I said, “Well I hope this never happens to her or you will have to go through what we went through”.
The girl would bully my daughter for 3 months, the school and the police had been brilliant but to a certain extent their hands were tied. Thankfully she would be expelled for a totally different matter.
My daughter then went on to keep her head down and do very well in all her exams. I can honestly say I am proud of her but if she never had the love and support of her close friends and family it could have been a totally different ending.
It breaks my heart she couldn't come to us as I thought we were a very close family. Our parenting skills would be challenged and as I said the emotions were unbearable. It took me a year to get over it all, looking back I still can't believe my daughter felt the need to send nudes and how quickly it all accelerated and how boys feel the need to ask girls for nudes. The school at the time said my daughter was the victim in it all. I honestly still believe she should never have sent the pictures and I never once portrayed her as the victim. My biggest problem was the vendetta with the bully because she would not let us move on as a family.
I hope my experience can help to change something, on paper this should never have happened to our family as we are normal, hardworking parents, dedicating our lives to teaching our children values and, as I thought, right from wrong, but it did happen!