Grooming

Grooming describes the process whereby an offender establishes a relationship to a child or young person in order to eventually commit sexual abuse.

Offenders have often manipulated and seduced their victim for a long time with the explicit aim of getting the victim to overstep their limits. Grooming can take place offline as well as online, but we have seen an increasing number of cases of grooming on the Internet in recent years.

Analyses of cases about online-related sexual abuse on children show that the same pattern often repeats itself. You can find more information about grooming on this page and read about the various phases that are typically part of the grooming process.

If you are a professional working with children and adolescents, you can find our teaching materials for schoolchildren about grooming and online seduction on the Save the Children school site.

Phases in grooming processes

The grooming process typically includes the following phases:

1. The contact-creating phase is where the offender selects potential victims. The offender then attempts to establish a relationship, possibly even becoming friends with the child.

2. The offender makes various risk assessments in relation to the victim’s network and the risk of his intentions being revealed.

3. If the offender feels that he can potentially carry out the sexual abuse of his chosen victim, there will generally be a phase in which the friendship between offender and victim is strengthened further. Here, the victim is made to feel chosen or as though they are ‘the one and only’. It is usually here – although occasionally earlier in the grooming process – that sexual themes are introduced to the victim.

4. At a point in time when the offender feels that they have control and power over the relation to the victim, the sexual abuse(s) are carried out online or at a physical meeting.

5. Both in connection with the abuse(s) and afterwards, the offender will ensure that the victim does not tell anyone about it and that the abuse is kept secret.

New opportunities for offenders

Children and young people spend extensive time online today. Via chat, computer games and social media, they easily come in contact with new people . This provides offenders with new opportunities to create contact to children in order to commit sexual abuse.

 It is therefore no longer wise to talk about the classic idea of a child molester as someone offering candy to children at a playground or offering a ride in a van. Today, sexual offenders have countless opportunities to contact children and develop friendships in the online universes in which children spend significant amounts of time.

Do you want to know more?

Download ‘Grooming – a strategic process’ (pdf, in Danish).

You can read more about grooming in the Save the Children anthology about digital abuse. (pdf)

New opportunities for offenders

Children and young people spend extensive time online today. Via chat, computer games and social media, they easily come in contact with new people. This provides offenders with new opportunities to create contact to children in order to commit sexual abuse.

It is therefore no longer wise to talk about the classic idea of a child molester as someone offering candy to children at a playground or offering a ride in a van. Today, sexual offenders have countless opportunities to contact children and develop friendships in the online universes in which children spend significant amounts of time.

Partners

Save the Children Denmark’s AnmeldDet (ReportIt) hotline is co-financed by the European Commission and is part of INHOPE, a global network of hotlines fighting child sexual abuse material on the Internet.