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What is grooming, and how can we protect our children?

   Reading time: 2 Minutes

You’ve heard the term “grooming” online and don’t know what it means? We’ll tell you what it means and how to use it.

The term “grooming” is taken from English and means something like “to prepare”, “to make ready” or “to prepare”. It is used as a synonym for pedo-crime and is thought to refer to the grooming of skin or fur on the one hand. The phrase is typically used to describe “cyber-grooming,” which is the exploitation of minors by adults who manipulate online interactions.

This is what grooming means: initiation of sexual contact mostly by adults to minors.

The intention of “grooming” always has an abusive purpose. The term itself shows the reference to a preparatory behavior of the “groomers”. For this purpose, first of all a trusting behavior and closeness is established, so that victims are brought into a certain physical as well as psychological dependence. On this basis, (sexual) favors are forced, already for example in the form of sexting.

Where does grooming take place?

“Grooming” in general is possible in many places of public life, but mostly the term is used in the WWW context. Similar to catfishing, “cyber-grooming” takes place in social networks and other Internet forums, including fandoms and gaming communities. Everywhere where people have a platform to get in touch.

How can grooming be identified?

When dealing with children and adolescents, it is important to be especially aware of a few red flags. If the conversation, for instance, is filled with compliments, anxious youth-speak, and frequently asked questions, this may be a sign of “grooming.” In addition to acting as fictional talent scouts, “groomers” may also request personal information and photographs.

“Don’t tell anybody that I rubbed your back. It’s just us being friends – other people wouldn’t understand. So don’t tell them because they wouldn’t get it.”

Examples of this can include the following from a groomer

Calls for secrecy, such as asking only to communicate with the contact privately and switching from the platform to a messenger are further red flags. Similarly, a person’s profile reveals a lot about them, thus “groomers” typically have a shady photo or odd descriptions.

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