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Online Grooming

Online Grooming

As children continue to find new ways to connect with one another on a variety of devices and platforms, it is becoming increasingly important to assist them in making smarter and safer decisions about who they talk to and what they share online, especially as groomers become more prevalent.

icon Meaning of grooming?

Grooming is commonly used to describe child sexual abuse. Groomers, on the other hand, target children for a variety of reasons, including radicalization, drug trafficking, and financial gain.

icon How perpetrators groom children?

Groomers begin by befriending a child. This could be someone they've never met before. A groomer may pretend to be your child's age; however, because there is a screen between them, your child cannot be certain who the other person is.

A groomer, on the other hand, may tell the truth about who they are, which some young people may see as a benefit. A child without an older role model, for example, may feel a connection to an older person who treats them well.

Once a groomer has gained the trust of a child, they can manipulate them to do whatever they want. Children and teenagers may find it difficult to say no to someone who has developed a relationship with them, making online grooming possible.

icon Is my child being groomed?

Online grooming can be difficult for parents to detect because it can occur while their children are at home. Groomers may also specifically warn children not to discuss it with anyone. There are several warning signs to be aware of (although many of them are quite common among teenagers), but keep an eye out for increased instances of:

  • Wanting to spend more and more time on the internet?
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to online and what sites they visit?
  • Switching screens when you come near the computer?
  • Possessing items you haven't given them?
  • Using sexual language you wouldn't expect them to know?
  • Becoming emotionally volatile?

icon Solution

It is essential to talk to your child about these issues so that they are aware of what they may encounter in the digital space. Do not avoid discussing predators for fear of upsetting them, as the potential harms can be far more severe. Let them know:

  • They can tell you about any problems they are having or if someone makes them feel uncomfortable online
  • They should only engage online with people they personally know and trust in real life to reduce risk.
  • It is okay to trust their instincts: if something feels odd or strange,it probably is
  • ‘Good friends’ don’t make them do things that make them feel uncomfortable.
    Check that your child has appropriate security settings in place for social networking sites to help protect their online privacy.

Disclaimer: The information is provided solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. As a result, before acting on such information, we recommend that you consult with the appropriate professionals.