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Child grooming

Child grooming

Advice for parents on how to keep children safe from grooming online and in face to face situations

Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation.

Children and young people can be groomed online, or by someone they have met - for example a family member, friend or professional.

Groomers may be male, female or another young person.

Many children and young people don't understand that they have been groomed, or that what has happened is abuse.

You can help your child stay safe by talking to them about the risks, and being aware of the signs and what to do if your child is affected.

How grooming happens

To gain a child's trust, groomers will hide their true intentions. They may also try to gain the trust of the child's family.

Groomers build trust by:

  • pretending to be someone they are not
    • e.g. saying they are the same age online
  • offering advice or empathy to a child
  • buying gifts
  • giving the child attention
  • using their professional position or reputation.

Using secrets and intimidation to control children
Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by isolating the child from friends or family and making the child feel dependent on them.

Groomers may introduce 'secrets' as a way to control or frighten the child. Sometimes they will blackmail the child, or make them feel ashamed or guilty, to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

How common is grooming

We don't know how common grooming is because often children don't tell anyone what is happening to them.

Children may not speak out because they are:

  • ashamed
  • feeling guilty
  • unaware that they're being abused
  • in a relationship with someone they believe to be their 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend'.

However, we know that:

  • 413 contacts mentioned grooming to ChildLine in 2011/12 - 60% specifically related to online grooming
  • 1,145 reports were made about online grooming to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in 2012.

Children at risk of grooming

Grooming can affect any child. However, vulnerable children, such as those with disabilities, may be more at risk than others.

Groomers will exploit any vulnerability to increase the child or young person's dependence on them, and reduce the likelihood of the child speaking out.

Online grooming

It is easy for groomers to hide their identity online, as children and young people often chat or become 'friends' with people they don't know on social networking websites, chatrooms and gaming sites.

Groomers may look for:

  • usernames or comments that are flirtatious or have a sexual meaning
  • public comments that suggest a child has low self-esteem or is vulnerable.

What to look out for: the signs of grooming

The signs of grooming aren't always obvious especially as groomers will go to great lengths not to be identified.

However, children may show signs of sexual abuse, such as emotional or behavioural changes, problems at school or withdrawing from friends. They may also:

  • 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.

In older children, signs of grooming can easily be mistaken for 'normal' teenage behaviour, but you may notice unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, or inappropriate sexual behaviour for their age.

Video: spotting the signs of grooming and sexual exploitation

This video, developed with young people as part of the NSPCC Protect and Respect service, shows how relationships aren't always what they seem.



How to help your child stay safe

It's important to have conversations with your child that help them understand what the risks are, how to keep safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable.

Talk about healthy relationships
Talk to your child about healthy relationships and the difference between 'good' and 'bad' secrets. Teach younger children
the Underwear Rule to help them keep themselves safe.

Staying safe when out and about
It's important that you know who your child is spending time with. You may want to get to know your children's friends but try to give them independence as they get older.

If your child goes to a sports club or community group, ask to see their child protection policy.

Be aware of anyone who shows an unexplained interest in your child - especially if that means they would be spending time alone together, for example going on visits or babysitting.

Keeping safe online and using mobile phones
Remind your child to be careful of who they accept or add as a friend online, because people aren't always who they say they are.

Our online safety advice for parents will help you understand what children do online, the risks they face and how to help your child stay safe.

Reassure them you are there to help
Let them know that you are always there to support them and they can talk to you if they ever feel worried or scared. Reassure them that you will be supportive and understanding, whatever has happened.

What to do if you suspect your child is at risk of grooming

If your child tells you that they have been groomed or sexually abused, you must get professional advice.

United Kingdom , Children Abuse

Date: 10/17/2014 6:42:32 AM

By: LASSA web , nspcc.org.uk
 
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Children Abuse

 
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