What is Grooming?
Grooming is a word used to describe how people who want to sexually harm children and young people get close to them, and often their families, and gain their trust.
Grooming in the real world can take place in all kinds of places – in the home or local neighbourhood, the child’s school, youth and sports clubs or the church.
Online grooming may occur by people forming relationships with children and pretending to be their friend. They do this by finding out information about their potential victim and trying to establish the likelihood of the child telling. They try to find out as much as they can about the child’s family and social networks and, if they think it is ‘safe enough’, will then try to isolate their victim and may use flattery and promises of gifts, or threats and intimidation in order to achieve some control.
It is easy for ‘groomers’ to find child victims online. They generally use chatrooms, which are focused around young people’s interests. They often pretend to be younger and may even change their gender. Many give a false physical description of themselves, which may bear no resemblance to their real appearance – some send pictures of other people, pretending that it is them. Groomers may also seek out potential victims by looking through personal websites such as social networking sites.
How is the grooming of children different online?
In many circumstances, grooming online is faster and anonymous and results in children trusting an online ‘friend’ more quickly than someone they had just met ‘face to face’. Those intent on sexually harming children can easily access information about them and they are able to hide their true identity, age and gender. People who groom children may not be restricted by time or accessibility to a child, as they would be in the ‘real world’.
Watch our two comprehensive videos below to learn more and tips for protection