The new law making it illegal to send explicit messages to a child will have a big effect on the online world, as it is one of the easiest ways for grooming. ‘Groomers’ generally use chatrooms and pretend to be the child’s friend by acknowledging common interests and starting conversations. They often pretend to be younger than the child to heighten their vulnerability or even change their gender. By finding out information about the child, it enables the groomer to determine if the child will tell anyone and will eventually gain a good level of trust.
Once a groomer has established a trusting relationship with the child, they may begin to isolate the child from their friends and family. This will then make the child dependant on them and the groomer will then begin to manipulate the child and control their choices without the child realising. Sometimes they will use blackmail or make the child feel ashamed or guilty about something.
‘Grooming’ is a term used to describe how people who want to sexually harm children and young people get close to them. It is to build an emotional relationship with a child for sexual purposes. It can take place in the home, school, church, youth clubs or online.
Although, grooming online is faster and for the groomer, they are anonymous. Therefore, by hiding their identity, age and gender, it is easier for a false appearance to be created allowing the child to form a relationship.
Signs of Grooming;
- Being secretive- including what they are doing online.
- Having older boyfriends or girlfriends.
- Visiting friends in unusual places.
- Having new clothes and belongings that they won’t explain.
- Access to drugs and alcohol.
Many children do not understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened in abuse. It is important for children to understand different safety measures online and for parents to ensure parental controls are effective on all devices. Ensure you know who your child is talking to and their relationships outside the home. Understand the signs of grooming and when to seek help from professionals. Show your child that you support them so they can be open and honest when they have any concerns.