What is grooming?

Grooming is the term used to describe the process a sex offender goes through to select and prepare a child for sexual abuse.


It is often very subtle, which enables abuse to go undetected. They gain access to children and get the opportunity to abuse them without being identified as a sex offender.

The offender will try to develop trust with the child by sharing feelings and secrets and may buy small gifts for the child, which they will be told to keep secret.

Once the offender has developed a relationship with the child, they will move on to control and touch the child.

Children find it very difficult to report abuse. Many paedophiles gain access to the child through their parents, developing trusting relationships that mean the parents feel their children are in safe company when left alone with the offender.

What is online grooming?

Online grooming refers to the deliberate actions taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child with the intent of later facilitating sexual contact.

This can take place in chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites and email.

What are the signs my child is being groomed online?

The vast majority of children are not being abused online and never will be. The following activities could be perfectly innocent, but it is worth being alert to potential signs:

  • Becoming secretive
  • Downloading files onto discs and;
  • Using encryption software 

Changes in your child’s behaviour may act as indicators and these changes can include:

  • A change in a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Withdrawal from the family and isolating themselves
  • Difficulties at school
  • An increased level of anxiety
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Concentration difficulties, and in some instances become excessively concerned with washing and cleanliness

Other possible signs that your child might be being groomed online include:

  • excessive use of the computer
  • aggression around computer usage
  • change in the use of sexual language
  • unexplained gifts or cash
  • and /or finding pornography on the computer

What should I do if I suspect a case of online grooming?

  • If you or a child is in immediate danger, dial 999
  • If there is no immediate danger, you can report inappropriate behaviour to the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre at CEOP or call us on 101

(Source: www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com)


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