It's important to talk to your child about grooming - read on for tips on how to start the conversation
What is grooming?
Grooming is befriending a child/young person and sometimes the family, to encourage the child/young person to trust them. This can lead to sexual abuse and blackmail -if sexts have been sent by the child, or the production of child pornography.
Groomers may contact children and young people over the internet; through social networking sites, chatrooms or on games consoles.
It is easy for people to create fake accounts and lie about who they really are online.
What should I talk about with my child/young person? Bring up the subject of grooming in a conversation or when it is mentioned in the news or on the TV, this normalises the conversation. Try not to preach and keep as a discussion. Try to get your child/young person to think about the following, depending on the age of your child:
Is the person too good to be true? If they praise pictures on their profile, saying they are pretty, fit or sexy they may be trying to make them feel good about themself or special. It’s harder to think critically if someone’s praising them.
Let’s talk about sex. They will try to get the child/young person to talk about sex really quickly. Most of us feel less shy online than in real life so talking about sex can be easier. If someone is very flirty or tries to get a child/young person to talk about sex online they should tell someone. Even if the young person is old enough to resist the pressure they need to report it as another child/young person may not be able to resist the pressure.
Got any sexy pictures? They might ask for sexts and tell the child/young person that other children/young people send them. They may then threaten to share them with friends or family if they don't get money or sex - with them and others.
Can we go someone more private? Private chat makes it easier to start a relationship and build trust. Do they need to private message the child/young person or can they keep chatting in a more public place?
Our little secret? They might ask the child/young person to keep the chat a secret or say they will be in trouble if anyone else find out. Don't keep this a secret speak to a friend or family.
My webcam’s broken. Some abusers pretend to be the same age as the child/young person and say their webcam is broken so they can’t see them. Tell them to never webcam with a stranger with a broken webcam. It’s also easy to record and fake a webcam feed. Just because your child/young person thinks they have seen someone on a webcam doesn’t mean it’s really them!
Report it. If your child/young person notices anything suspicious online they should talk to you straight away.
Meeting up. Let your child/young person know that they should never agree to meet someone they have met online without talking to you first.
If you are worried that someone is grooming your child phone the police.
What should you look for?
The signs of grooming aren't always obvious and are often typical teenage behaviour. Groomers will go to great lengths not to be identified.
- 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.
Go to the Think You Know website for further information
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A leading national charity providing help and support to anyone caring for children – parents, grandparents, step-parents, relatives – for families living together as well as apart.
The Think You Know website provides parents with a range of tools to support their family to stay safe online and to report abuse click here to access the site.
Coventry Positive Choices Young Person's Service is a free and confidential young person's integrated risk taking service service for young people from the age of 5, their families, carers and affected others.