Grooming is a something that some people use to trick young people into thinking they have a trusting relationship with them. Groomers will do this over a long period of time and will work hard to develop an emotional connection with the young person. In some cases groomers will also groom the young person’s family, so that they are able to manipulate, exploit and sexually abuse the young person. Groomers will work very hard to gain a young person’s trust and to make them feel special; this can take place over weeks, months or even years.
Who can be a groomer?
Groomers are not always strangers – they could be a family member, a friend or a neighbour.
It can be difficult to understand when grooming is happening because often the groomer will make the child believe that they are in a relationship that is ‘normal’.
Grooming can happen face-to-face or online.
Keeping safe online
People online can easily hide who they really are and online groomers are really good at lying. Which means it can be difficult to know if someone is genuinely an online friend.
It can be difficult to understand if abuse is taking place, but some warning signs to watch out for can include:
It’s important to trust your instinct and if you feel that something is wrong in a relationship you have with someone, if you feel frightened, pressured, unsafe, threatened or trapped, then you must speak to someone you trust, such as a parent or carer and tell them how you feel.
There are a lot of organisations and people who can give young people the advice, support and help needed to protect them.