Starting the Conversation

Written by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) / Netsmartz

Online enticement involves an individual communicating with someone believed to be a child via the internet with the intent to commit a sexual offense or abduction. This is a broad category of online exploitation and includes sextortion, in which a child is being groomed to take sexually explicit images and/or ultimately meet face-to-face with someone for sexual purposes, or to engage in a sexual conversation online, or in some instances, to sell/trade the child’s sexual images. This type of victimization takes place across every platform: social media, messaging apps, gaming platforms, etc.

When and How to Start the Conversation


Discussions about positive, healthy habits online should start early and happen often. Use these discussion starters to initiate the conversation.

Children and adolescents may not take the first steps in disclosing to you an uncomfortable online interaction. If during this discussion you hear something that is startling to you, try to react calmly and continue listening. Remember, it is not the child who is at fault. Together you can report the incident to the CyberTipline. 

Conversation Starters


  • “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 people you should unfriend or block?”
  • “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?”
  • Reinforce:
  • “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 someone you met online in the real world. Please let me know if you plan on doing this and make sure myself or another trusted adult can be with you. It is always essential with meetings like this that you meet and stay in a public place.”
What to do if your young person has experienced online exploitation


NCMEC has operated the CyberTipline®, to provide the public and electronic service providers with the ability to report suspected child sexual exploitation, including online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to children, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the internet. After NCMEC’s review is completed, the CyberTipline report is made available to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

To make a CyberTipline Report, visit report.cybertip.orgSupport for exploited children