How Parents Can Protect Their Children From Online “Grooming” by Online Predators
No, this has nothing to do with hair care or hygiene. Online grooming refers to the action of someone building an emotional connection with a child online in order to gain their trust so that they can exploit or sexually abuse them. It is hard to identify groomers. They could be male, female and of any age. This is why online grooming poses a real danger to children. It is hard for children to understand that grooming is a form of abuse.
How does online grooming take place?
The grooming begins as simple innocent conversation. However, the conversation always has some level of deceit. This is because the groomers are always adults and usually pretend to be the same age as the child they are grooming. Pretending to be someone they are not is the first step in gaining the child’s trust. The groomers seem to be the perfect friend. They always offer good advice, give the child a lot of attention and even buy them lots of gifts. This is how they win the hearts of the kids. If a parent or guardian is not alert, they might also be convinced that the groomer is a person with a genuine concern for their children. Once the trust has been firmly established, this is when the groomers start making requests. Since the child feels that they owe allegiance to the groomer, they do what they are told. The groomer can ask for sexual favors, coerce the child to send sexually explicit images of their bodies or ask for something else.
Where does online grooming take place?
Online grooming takes place on various online platforms. These include gaming sites, instant messaging apps, chat rooms, social network sites, photo sharing apps and dating apps. The groomers may ask for sexual videos of the victim, sexual conversations or even arrange for them to meet in person.
How can parents know whether their child is being groomed?
Online grooming can be difficult to notice. This is because it happens on something as simple as a smartphone or tablet, even when the child is at home. However, if your child begins behaving in the ways listed below, this might be a sign that they are being groomed. This is what to look out for:
- Increased amount of time spent online
- Using sexual language that you have not exposed them to
- Secretive about online activities
- New toys, especially phones, tablets or computers that you have not purchased
- If your child becomes emotionally volatile
How does online grooming affect a child?
Online grooming is a very confusing experience to go through. It leaves the child feeling helpless, betrayed, depressed, embarrassed and even scared. When the child finds out the person they thought was their friend was just taking advantage of them, it can traumatize them for a long time. The child might also feel that they do not have control of an overbearing situation, that it is their fault and there is no way out of it. This can lead to low self-esteem and also destroy a child’s trust in other people.
How can parents protect their children from online grooming?
One of the important lessons that parents should teach their children is not to speak to strangers. This also applies even to strangers online. Parents should ensure that the people their children talk to online are people that they know physically. It is also important to stress that they should not open emails, messages or chat messages from people they do not know. Children should also understand the importance of not disclosing personal information to strangers. This includes their name, parents’ names, school name, home address, e-mail address and phone numbers. Parents should also teach their children not to trust everyone they come across online. They might be using a fake identity. In the event that your child comes across a suspicious person, instruct them to always inform you immediately. This way, you can keep your children safe from online groomers and save a number of people the agony associated with such an experience.