I Want To Know. What Is Grooming?
You might be wondering, what is grooming? How it will affect my child? Even if you teach your child to be wary of strangers, they might still fall a victim to grooming and with the increasing popularity of the Internet and social media, it’s extra difficult to keep them safe.
The Definition of Grooming
Grooming is defined as the action of developing a relationship with a young person and gaining their trust to manipulate them. A groomer can be anyone – a man or a woman of any age. Contrary to what most people think, it’s not always a stranger either. It might be someone known to the rest of the family who abuses their position and wants to exploit the child, for example, their doctor or a teacher. A child might be also groomed online which is a more likely scenario as the groomer can easily hide their true identity behind fake photos.
How Does Grooming Happen?
A child can be groomed in person or online. Grooming online can be especially effective as it gives the groomer an opportunity to pretend to be someone younger and find out about your child’s interests. They might approach them on a forum, app or social networking site, and gain trust by acting understanding when your child opens up to them. A groomer might try to appear to be a good listener and even buy your child gifts which is one of the manipulation tactics.
Who Is At Risk of Being Groomed?
Any child can be groomed but children who don’t have many friends are at more risk than others. If your child spends a lot of time surfing the Internet and tends to isolate themselves you might have to pay extra attention to their online activities. Similarly, if your child has a disability, they’re more vulnerable to grooming.
The Effects of Grooming
Grooming can have long-term effects, even if your child didn’t know they were being groomed. If the relationship was romantic, your child might respond with anger and become hostile towards you. This might turn into depression which can affect their relationships with other people and their school performance. In other cases, a child can struggle with shame and guilt which they might try to cope with by self-harming or drinking. They might have difficulty dealing with stress and trusting people. In the worst-case scenario, they might develop a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can impact their adult life if left untreated. All these issues are best dealt with in therapy.
If you think your child needs support, reach out for help as soon as possible. Contact My Family Psychologist to discuss your options