What is online grooming?
Grooming is a form of predatory behaviour that involves someone building an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust so that they will participate in sexual activities often leading to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and even in some cases trafficking.
Despite this being in the headlines on a regular basis, many parents do not fully understand what online grooming is and how to spot if their child is indeed being groomed and how to prevent it from happening.
Signs of grooming
If a child is being groomed they may:
- Be very secretive, including about what they are doing online.
- Have older boyfriends or girlfriends.
- Go to unusual places to meet friends.
- Have new things such as clothes or mobile phones that they can’t or won’t explain.
- Have access to drugs and alcohol.
- In older children these signs can sometimes be mistaken for ‘normal’ teenage behaviour, but you may notice unexplained changes in personality or inappropriate sexual behaviour for their age.
These signs are not always obvious and groomers will go to great length to hide their identity.