SEX offenders used the internet as a gateway to abuse children in 151 cases, a charity has revealed.
Figures obtained by the NSPCC show offenders abused children in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight using the internet, with the youngest victim aged just eight.
It comes after a 25-per-cent increase in the number of counselling sessions via Childline about online sexual abuse.
Colin Peak, head of the regional service for London and the south east, said: ‘It is vital parents talk to their children about being safe online, spotting the signs of inappropriate behaviour, and how to report it.
‘Online sexual abuse can take the form of grooming, child sexual exploitation, sexting, being made to perform sex acts on webcam, meeting up in person, and viewing distressing sexually explicit content.
‘It is vital parents sit down together with their children regularly to talk about online safety and how to get help if they need it, especially at Christmas time when many will get new devices.’
See the NSPCC website at nspcc.org.uk to find out more.
Youngsters who need help can call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor at any time.