The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has issued a stark warning to parents who are leaving their children to surf the internet unattended.
In a statement, the CEO of the CEOP, Jim Gamble, called for parents to be more aware of what their children are up to online because perverts are using the internet increasingly to groom their prey.
He said that "Offenders use the internet, children put themselves at risk - and parents remain oblivious. This is not about understanding technology or even necessarily the latest online service. It's about behaviour."
The organisation received more than 5500 reports in 2009 about online abuse. Around half came to the CEOP through its website with nearly 1400 requests coming from the children themselves.
Worryingly for parents, an overwhelming number of them reported grooming attempts, very often through social networking websites like Bebo or Myspace.
CEOP also noted that a notable increase in the number of cases where virtual real-time acts were involved, either through instant messaging or through a webcam.
Mr Gamble highlighted the fact that parents fail to educate themselves over such dangers and instead rather say that they are ignorant.
He added "It's too easy to easy to say 'Oh, I don't understand the technology', How many parents go online to book their holidays or use the internet to compare insurance prices?"
It is difficult to understand why parents are so blasé when it comes to their own children's protection. After all, no one, in their right mind would allow someone to come in their house and sexually harass their sons or daughters. So why allow it to happen online?