Child grooming is a slow, gradual, and deliberate process in which the perpetrator initiates and builds a relationship with a minor in order to sexually exploit the victim while maintaining secrecy.
Grooming helps the perpetrator to maintain a relationship with a child to overcome natural physical boundaries to finally abuse the child. The child is left in a confused state and is made to think it’s their (the child’s) own fault.
To know more about grooming behaviors check out our previous article What is Sexual Grooming and who is at risk
Why child groomers are not recognized right away
Groomers are not identified right away because the way groomers work is very discreet and can seem very confusing. The offender may be a very reputable person in the community, a friend, relative, a young adult, a teenager, a complete stranger on the internet, or even someone close to kin.
However, there are certain textbook behaviors you should look out for when it comes to something as important as your child’s safety.
Paying special attention to a child
The offender will first like to get the targeted child to like them. They will make the child feel special in order to gain trust.
Be cautious if
- The child is getting a little too much attention from an adult.
- An adult is giving a lot of presents to the child.
- The child is suddenly isolating themselves, or keeping secrets.
As discussed in the previous article, a groomer first desensitizes the child to touch. The perpetrator may first touch the child in front of the caregiver to see their response.
Be cautious if-
- An adult touches the child a little too often. For example, by putting their arm around the child, or holding hands, more than often making the child look uncomfortable. These behaviors tend to go unnoticed as they’re not seen as an issue as the predator may be a trusted person.
- Educate your child about bodily autonomy, and types of touch. Teach them how to say ‘no’ to adults.
Too much involvement in the family
The offender might do special things for the family or help the caregivers to gain alone time with the child, like offering to babysit. Let other adults know that you do not approve of letting them alone with your child without your consent. Check-in on your child regularly so other adults know you are vigilant.
Gaining access via internet
Child sexual offenders often try to gain access to kids online. They will pretend to empathize with them to gain trust to groom them online. Keep a check on your child’s online activity.