Grooming is the process a sexual offender will go through to select and prepare a child for sexual abuse.
It is often very subtle allowing them to gain access to a child without being identified as a sexual offender.
The offender will try to gain the child’s confidence by sharing feelings and secrets. They will often buy gifts for the child which they tell the child to keep as a secret.
Once the offender has the trust of the child they will then move onto controlling behaviour and then start to touch the child.
Children find it difficult to report abuse, often paedophilles will make contact through the child’s parents, gaining the trust of the parents as well as the child.
What is online grooming?
This is when an adult carries out a set of deliberate actions to form a trusting relationship with a child with the intent to facilitate sexual contact.
This can happen in chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites and email.
What are the signs?
Most children will not be subject of online grooming and the following activities could be innocent, but they may indicate something is not right:
- Becoming secretive
- Downloading files onto discs
- Using encryption software.
Changes in your child’s behaviour could alert you, such as:
- A change in your child’s self-esteem or self-confidence
- Withdrawing from the family and isolating themselves
- Difficulties at school
- Increased level of anxiety
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration difficulties, and in some cases obsessive behaviour around cleanliness.
Other signs that you can look for:
- Excessive use of the computer
- Aggression around computer usage
- Changes in the use of sexual language
- Unexplained gifts or pocket money
- Finding pornography on the computer.
What should I do if I suspect my child is being groomed online?
If you believe your child is in imminent danger call 999.
If they are not at immediate risk of harm then repot it to Child Online and Internet Exploitation Centre or contact us on 101.