What is Grooming?

Children and young people can be groomed online or face-to-face by strangers, as well as people they know. This is where someone begins to build a relationship in order to gain a child’s trust, so they can carry out sexual abuse, exploitation and even trafficking.
Video courtesy of CEOP. Please watch as guidance only.

Spotting the Signs

Children being groomed aren’t always easy to identify, however these are signs to look out for:
  • They have become secretive
  • Hanging around with older groups of people
  • New possessions that they can’t explain where they came from
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
In older children, spotting the signs can be more difficult as it can be mistaken as normal teenage behaviour. Nonetheless, if their behaviour suddenly changes, this could be an indication something else is occurring.

How Grooming Happens

Groomers spend a lot of time trying to gain the trust of the child and sometimes even the family. To gain this trust, groomers:
  • Pretend to be someone they are not – using a different persona online
  • Offering the child attention
  • Buying the child gifts
  • Using their professional position

How Common is Grooming?

It’s hard to tell how common grooming is, as children in many cases don’t say anything about what is happening to them. This can be because they don’t think people will believe them, they feel guilty or ashamed and some are unaware that they are even being abused.

Who is Affected?

Any child can be affected by grooming. However, those that are vulnerable are more likely to be at risk than others – including those that are in care or have a disability. This is something the groomer can exploit as they find it easier to target these vulnerable children.
If you or someone you know is affected by this, there are multiple ways to get help:
  • Contact our safeguarding lead – Nick Schober – for advice
  • Call the NSPCC helpline – 0808 800 5000
  • Or report to CEOP
Most information sourced from NSPCC