Hi there. Even though we live in a wonderful society with so many amazing people, there still exist some antisocial elements that make the world unsafe. Similarly, just as unsafe the physical world around us can be, so is the world online.
Threats can be pretty much similar in both worlds. Therefore, as adults, it becomes our responsibility to protect the young. Even if you are a child, it is also your responsibility to help your friends who you might suspect to be in any kind of danger.
Here, we will be talking about a danger that children can be a victim of- Sexual Grooming.
What is sexual grooming?
Sexual grooming is the process in which the perpetrator (Usually an adult), gradually builds a relationship (could be romantic), and gains the trust of their victim (mostly a child) to fulfill their sexual desires.
How it happens
Grooming is a process involving trust and shaping up a child’s psychology. It involves the use of patterns of behavior that make a child think that abuse is ok. The child is made to believe that whatever is happening to them is okay and out of love and they are now trapped in this vicious setup.
These behavior patterns are as follows-
Choosing a suitable target
Sexual Grooming perpetrators look for children who are emotionally vulnerable. Usually, sexual predators or child molesters go for children who are perceived to be physically attractive and easily accessible.
The perpetrator will try to gain access to the minor through various means. It could be by volunteering at a daycare, through social media, or even by gaining access to the child’s parent or guardian.
Yes, you read that right, the perpetrator could be anyone, even a relative. In fact, in most cases, it is someone from the known. The sexual groomer will look for ways to get into the child’s life in whichever way possible.
The next step is to build trust with the child. The groomers often offer the children some gifts. They try to make an emotional connection with the child. Since they look for any insecurities and self-esteem issues, they’ll target them when they find them.
The perpetrators make their potential victims feel special and might even lead them to think that the relationship is romantic. The perpetrator may ask the minor for something to prove their trust. For example, indecent pictures of themselves.
The reason why this behavior goes unreported is that the minor is basically sworn to secrecy and is somewhat afraid that disclosure might lead to breaking of the perpetrator’s trust and they might lose that feeling of being “special”.
Blackmailing for sexual favors
After gaining the trust of the minor, the groomer asks for sexual favors by blackmailing the minor. In some cases, instead of blackmailing directly, the perpetrator might even desensitize the minor to touch and sexual advances.
This is done by various methods like showing pornographic content, “accidentally” touching them on their private parts, even by non-sexual touch. The victim is left in a dilemma and is made to feel responsible for whatever is happening. The victim feels trapped in this cycle of abuse.
Who is at risk
Following children are most at risk for encountering a sexual groomer-
- Children with low self-esteem, low confidence, depression, especially those who come from dysfunctional families or have been victims of abuse.
- Children who are lonely, troubled, needy, naive, or those who trust easily.
- Children who are usually left unattended either in online or physical environments.
If you found this article useful, also read Social Media Guide to safety for students and grown ups also connect with us on Instagram