An Introduction to Grooming.
Grooming is a subtle art. It’s the act of luring people, mostly children, minors, young adults and vulnerable adults and manipulating them into engaging into sexual practices and acts – grooming however could be used not only for sexual purposes but also for emotional and psychological needs/exploitation.
Some additional definitions –
- Grooming is the gradual weaving of sexual ideas into a normal conversation.
- Grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or a young adult so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.
- Grooming is a series of manipulative behaviours that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them into agreeing to the abuse, which results in reducing the risk of getting caught.
- Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child and sometimes with the family to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.
Types and purpose of grooming.
Grooming can take place in person, online or in institutional settings. The relationship a groomer builds can take different forms.
Some of the types could be:
- a romantic relationship.
- a mentor and a pupil relationship.
- an authority figure as the groomer.
- a dominant and persistent figure.
More examples could include, an older family friend, a tutor/a school or college teacher, a family relative, etc. When speaking of online grooming, it can take place through the use of social media networks, text messaging, email, voice and video chats in forums, games and apps and live streaming platforms and chatrooms.
Purpose of Grooming.
There could be several purposes of grooming, these include –
- To manipulate the perceptions of other adults around the child – this takes place when the setting takes place in person. Largely to win the trust of either the parents or the guardian(s) of the child.
- To manipulate the child into becoming a co-operating participant which reduces the likelihood of a disclosure and increases the likelihood that the child will repeatedly return to the offender. This could include emotional blackmails or this could fall under a romantic spectrum.
- To reduce the likelihood of the child being believed if they do disclose. (this is not the case for every situation – it is encouraged for the person who is being to speak up about it and to report to their parents or an elder.
What is Online Grooming?
Online grooming is when someone uses the internet as the medium to psych, deceive or force a young person for sexual benefits such as getting their naked video or pictures. Someone who’s grooming others online will try to build their trust before bringing sexual aspects. Some abusers (sometimes with a deceiving mask of child) chat with other children online and make arrangements to meet them in person. The majority of targeted children are girls, and most of the victimization occurs with support of mobile phones. Children and teenagers with behavioral issues such as ” seeking attention” have comparatively higher risk than others.
Signs of Online Grooming.
Every situation is different. And online groomers can very well lie about their original identity. This implies that it can be difficult to know whether to know that the person is an online friend or an online groomer. It often starts with gaining trust and building friendship. Here is some information which might help in identifying an online groomer.
- They send a lot of messages and show a keen interest in the child.
- They ask to keep conversations a secret.
- They try to find a lot about the child and the child’s family.
- They eventually start sending sexual messages.
- They get the child to share personal information and pictures.
- They try to blackmail the child.
Effects of Grooming
Grooming can have both short and long-term effects. The impact of grooming can last a lifetime, no matter whether it happened in person, online or both. The effects of grooming include – anxiety and depression, eating disorders, post- traumatic stress, self-harm, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, feeling of shame and guilt, substance abuse, alcohol problems, communication issues, trust issues, commitment issues, academic problems, sexual behavior and over-sexualized behavior problems. Survivors of child sexual abuse often find it difficult to place the blame for their abuse where it really lies – on the shoulders of the perpetrator/s. For survivors who recovered/repressed their memories of sexual abuse, the memories can feel surreal, impossible, “crazy” – this is possibly because of the way they had been gaslighted. Child grooming is also commonly used to lure minors into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, prostitution, cybersex trafficking, or child pornography production.
What To Do When You’re Being Groomed
If you ever find yourself in such situation or being in an abusive and controlling relationship at the hands of groomer, you can get out. It begins with noticing that something isn’t okay. When you feel like it, find a third person to talk to, ideally an unknown professional or the perpetrator. You don’t want anything to get back to the groomer. If you can, take advantage of any technology you can find to get online or call a hotline. Services like these confidentially connect you with a professional who can direct you for next steps. If you’re being groomed online, it can be a very distressing time for you. It’s important to seek support and guidance as soon as possible and reassure yourself that there is help available. As a child, the first thing which is recommended is, is talking to your parents or your guardian(s), you may be scared of what might happen next and how will they react to the situation – but it’s important for them to know what situation you are going through. It’s also recommended to talk to a trusted friend or a trusted family member.
How You Can Help
If you discover that a young person has been or is being groomed, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here are some things that you can do when you find out about it.
- Listen – If the young person has disclosed themselves to you, let them tell their story and don’t be shocked by what they tell you. Give them the space they need to share everything they want to.
- Make the call – call helpline numbers, make sure that the person is safe. You can also call the police.
- Make a Report – If you are worried about a young person, you can make and file a report to the child protective services – make sure that you have the consent of the young person. In case a child hasn’t informed you directly but you have a reasonable suspicion, here’s what you can do, A good faith report means that you have reasonable suspicion of abuse, including any of the following,
- You witnessed a pattern of boundary violations by an adult or youth.
- You intervened in boundary violations, and yet the person continues.
- You received a disclosure of abuse or boundary violation from a child.
- You see physical signs of abuse. You can also call the police, talk to the child or their parents/caretakers.
- Indian Child Relief Helpline – 1098. Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, it is mandatory to report case of abuse against children, sexual or otherwise. This makes it extremely important to take up some initiatives that can be undertaken by anyone who comes across a case of child abuse.
- You can mail POCSO ebox – email@example.com
- You can also make a phone call – 9868235077 which is the POCSO Helpline Number.
- Emergency Number – 112 or 100.