Grooming on the web
19 march 2020
Children and teens online are part of everyday life. Especially now, when the whole of Europe has been in a pandemic crisis and schools have been temporarily closed. Schools encourage to online learning, but children and young people are more willing to devote their time to social media, websites, games and making new friends. However, not everything is safe. Online children can fall victim to adults.
Do you know that your child may become a victim of grooming?
Child grooming is a process of building an emotional bond and seducing a child online, usually with the intention of sexual abuse. The mechanism is often used to convince a child to child pornography.
In the consumer survey of 2019 conducted by Danae Sp. z o.o. i Realizacja Sp. z o.o. on behalf of UKE, almost 40% of children indicated contact with strangers as a potential threat in the network.
Grooming is a long-term process. It can be divided into 4 stages:
- Getting to know the victim and making friends - at this stage, the pedophile collects the first basic information about the child, e.g. interests, difficulties, needs. He is assessing his chances.
- Deepening the relationship - confirming the child's belief that he/she is dealing with a trustworthy person, with similar interests and problems, a potential friend.
- Strengthening the familiarity by referring to previous conversations. The child feels that he/she is being listened to. This favors further deeper confessions.
- Situation analysis - risk assessment of unmasking. Here comes the question where the computer stands or if parents know about the relationship. There are requests not to save conversations. Then, topics related to sexuality and male-female relationships start. Intimate questions are asked, often delicate ones, at first so as not to frighten the child, e.g. if they had a boyfriend / girlfriend or if they were already kissing. Over time the questions are bolder.
- Suggestions for specific actions - the pedophile prepares the child to meet in reality or perform other activities, e.g. masturbation while talking on the internet.
At the same time, he tries to show the child’s parents in a bad light (as enemies) and himself in a good light (ally). There is also blackmail - failure to meet a request will destroy friendship, as well as telling someone else, e.g. parents, about it.
Most frequently, the victims of grooming are children who:
- are rejected by a peer group,
- are trustworthy and susceptible to manipulation,
- have low self-esteem,
- want to attract attention.
The goal is always the same - to use the child sexually. This is achieved using:
- misleading with the intention of using this error,
- children's ignorance and trust,
- the inability of children to understand the situation or the criminal threat.
The Internet is a tool worth using. A ban on using the network is not a good and possible solution. All prohibitions usually result in an increased desire to explore, seek freedom. Hence, susceptibility during secret surfing on-line increases. Instead of bans, it's better to talk to your child about potential threats and how to protect oneself from them.
- Explain to your child which contacts can be dangerous.
- Ensure that it is worth for an adult to know about everyone with whom the child makes contact via the internet.
- Ask your child to tell you about anything unforeseen, dangerous, suspicious that happens on the web.
- Build a bond with your child, be interested in what he/she likes.
The child cannot always assess the situation correctly. Therefore, closeness of the parent and openness to conversation with the child is very important. At the moment some of us are working remotely, we are at home, let's use this time to talk to children. Let's get to know each other again and make sure we are not strangers under the same roof. Conversation is the key to online security. A child, who feels that attention is being given to him/her at home does not have to seek attention and acceptance from strangers on the internet. Grooming uses and develops thanks to all the deficits of the child - related to the development itself, as well as educational neglect.
Remember! Grooming is a crime regulated by the penal code (art. 200a). If your child has been a victim of grooming or you suspect so, you must report the case to the nearest police department.