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Children and online sexual requests

Learn more about how you can protect children from inappropriate online requests.

As children and teens develop, they become interested in mature subjects like sex. They may seek out attention or information about sex in order to appear older and more mature. This can make them vulnerable. Unfortunately, there are people online who may try to take advantage of this vulnerability by making inappropriate sexual requests or solicitations. 

What is sexual solicitation?

According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, a sexual solicitation is an unwanted request to engage in sexual activities or talk, or any sexual request by an adult. Sexual solicitations are considered aggressive if the request includes actual or attempted offline contact through mail, by telephone or in person.

The majority of sexual solicitations and aggressive solicitations occur among older teens ages 16-17. Most teens are solicited by their peers or young adults in a very casual way and report not being very bothered by it. Many of them simply block the person who sent the inappropriate request, ask them to stop or leave the site.

What about “predators”?

Although most teens aren’t bothered by sexual solicitations, some lead to dangerous online relationships with predatory offenders (often called “predators”). In these cases, the offenders begin to play on children’s vulnerabilities by offering them affection and attention. This manipulative process is called grooming.

A teen who is being groomed may be:

  • Receiving gifts through the mail, like bus tickets, cell phones and webcams.
  • Calling unknown numbers.
  • Rejecting family and friends in favor of spending time online.
  • Getting upset when he or she can’t get online.
  • Minimizing the screen or turning off the monitor when you come into the room.

Don’t ignore these signs. Talk to children about what they’re doing online and who they’re talking to. Call the police immediately if you suspect something is wrong. You can also make a report at


What can I do?

Use these tips to help kids and teens recognize and report sexual solicitations.

  • You have the right to say “NO” to anyone who talks about or asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even if it’s someone you know.
  • Someone who pressures you to talk about or do something sexual online is not someone you should trust.
  • Block, unfriend or report anyone sending an unwanted sexual request.
  • Talk to a friend or an adult you trust if you get upset about a sexual request. Sometimes just talking about it can help.
  • Be very careful about meeting offline. You should get your parents’ or guardians’ permission first, take them or another trusted adult with you and meet and stay in a public place.

Discussion Starters

Start the conversation!

Use these discussion starters to talk about inappropriate requests they may get while online.

  • Has anyone ever tried talking to you online about inappropriate or sexual things? What did you do?
  • Do you trust all of your online friends? Are there any you should unfriend?
  • Do you know how to report, flag, or block people on the websites and apps you use? Can you show me?
  • Who would you talk to if you were upset by a request you received online?