Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking, emotional abuse, physical abuse to name a few
Children and young people can be groomed online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by someone they know - for example a family member, friend or professional.
Groomers come in all shapes and sizes, they can be male or female, young or old
Many children and young people don't understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened is abuse. Online predators will do or say anything to gain your childs trust, they will even make out they are a child as well.
They will try to buy your childs trust, find out what you can't offer, or won't let them have, and then offer to buy it for them, this could mobile phones, games consoles, games, clothes etc
Online grooming may be hard for parents to recognise because it can happen when children are at home. Also, groomers may specifically warn children not to talk to anyone about it. There are a number of signs to be aware of (although a lot of them are quite common among teens), but look 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 – electronic devices or phones – you haven’t given them
• using sexual language you wouldn’t expect them to know
• becoming emotionally volatile.
If you’re worried that your child is being groomed online or sexually exploited you should report your concerns to CEOP.
It is not always easy to spot the signs of online grooming and sexual exploitation so if you have any concern at all about someone your child is in contact with, you should get in touch.
You should always report if your child is or has been in contact with someone who is:
• Chatting online to your child about sex
• Asking them to do sexual things on webcam
• Asking to meet up if they’ve only met them online
• Requesting sexual pictures
• Forcing them into sexual activity
• Making them feel unsafe
CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency and can investigate what is happening – with the assurance that the safety and wellbeing of your child is paramount at all times.
If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger, call 999.