What is grooming?
Grooming is a common technique among those who abuse children and teenagers. Grooming can also be used on young people and adults in vulnerable situations. The person who grooms tries to gain the victim’s trust and coerce them into consenting to abuse. Grooming can occur both in person and online.
The groomer is often a family member or someone who the victim knows, for example a coach or teacher. The person who grooms is normally charming, friendly, and helpful.
If could be grooming if a person who is older and who holds more power:
- Pays you a lot of attention and compliments.
- Shares their deepest secrets with you.
- Gives you gifts or money.
- Points out what you have in common.
- Shows you a lot of sympathy or compassion.
- Says they have feelings for you.
- Asks you for personal information such as your address, what school you go to or where you usually hang out.
- Pushes you or orders you to do things, often by guilting you into them.
- Asks you to meet alone and in secret, and even in a secluded location.
The grooming process.
- Choosing a victim. People who groom often monitor potential victims and choose one based on how easily approachable and vulnerable they are.
- Access and isolation. The groomer tries to isolate the person, emotionally and physically, from those who protect them and pursues positions where it is easy to interact with teenagers.
- Gaining trust and keeping secrets. The groomer tries to gain the person's trust through gifts, attention, sharing secrets, and other actions that make them feel as if they are in an affectionate relationship that they have to keep secret.
- Touching and discussing sexual matters. The groomer often starts touching the person in a way that seems innocent, such as hugging, play fighting, and tickling. Then it develops into sexual touching, such as massaging or showering together. The groomer sometimes shows the victim porn or discusses sexual matters with them, in order to introduce the idea of sexual intercourse.
- Attempting to make the behaviour seem normal. It can be difficult to recognise grooming when there is not a big age difference. Warning signs include if the relationship must be kept secret, if the person who is older has excessive influence or control or is constantly pushing the boundaries of the younger person.
Grooming on the internet
When an adult individual contacts a child online it is also grooming. The adult often creates a fake profile pretending to be a child or teenager in order to befriend the child and gain their trust. This can be the first step towards digital or sexual abuse.
It is important to talk to children and teenagers about the risks of the internet and how to communicate there with other people and give them advice for online harassment.