What is grooming?

Grooming involves communication with a child in order to commit sexual offences. It can happen online or face-to-face.

The offender may try to gain the child's confidence by sharing feelings and secrets. They may buy gifts and tell them to keep them secret. They may also build trust by first gaining the trust of the child's parents.

Grooming can be very subtle. It may not be obvious to the child that they are being targeted.

What are some of the potential signs of grooming?

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  • Becoming secretive, withdrawn or isolating themselves
  • Becoming anxious
  • Self harming behaviour
  • Changes in self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Changes in eating / sleeping habits or becoming obsessive around cleanliness
  • Missing school or having difficulty concentrating at school
  • Excessive / secretive use of the computer or being aggressive when asked about computer usage
  • Changes in the use of sexual language
  • Unexplained gifts or pocket money
  • Finding pornography on the computer.

How to report grooming

If you believe a 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.

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