How Can I Keep My Child Safe From Grooming?
Grooming can happen to anyone, but you can keep your child safe by staying vigilant.
Signs Your Child Might Be Getting Groomed
Signs of grooming might be difficult to spot at first. If your child is more of a loner and announces that they’ve made a new friend, you might not consider the possibility that they’re being groomed because you feel happy for them. If your child has an active social life, you might not think much of it either. The best way to stay vigilant is to pay attention to how much time your child spends online; has it increased or decreased significantly? In some cases, a groomed child will be secretive about who they’re talking to or spending time with, which is a red flag. You should also look for warning signs such as your child wearing new clothes or having more money than what your family gave them. Over time, grooming can cause changes in mood. If your child becomes withdrawn and appears depressed, try to encourage them to open up. In extreme cases, your child might start spending nights outside the house and drink alcohol or take drugs. If your child is a teenager who starts dating someone older, pay attention to what kind of relationship they have and whether your child starts acting differently. Even though the age difference might not be much, as long as they’re underage the older person is in a position of power and your child might not even realise they’re being groomed.
How To Keep Your Child Safe
Talk to your child about the dangers of sharing information on social media and encourage them to keep it private. Get familiar with the games they like playing and scan for any signs of potential danger. For example, pay attention if there are forums where your child might talk to other users and ask them not to engage in conversations with strangers. You can also install software that can monitor your child’s behaviour and block sites that aren’t appropriate for their age. You should also express interest in their social life to learn more about their friends. If your child is a teenager, talk to them about dating and explain to them that going out with an older person isn’t the best idea. If they’re already in a relationship, ask questions to find out if your child is being pressured to do something they don’t want to do and if there’s a power imbalance. Lastly, make sure you spend time with your child and help them improve their self-esteem. Groomers tend to target children who are isolated and feel unloved.
Feeling like you can’t keep your child safe might put a strain on your mental health. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help; contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat