online grooming

How to spot the warning symptoms and find the resources if you need them.

As you grow up, it’s natural to want more independence from your parents or carers.

You want to be able to do things like go out with your friends or explore more of the online world without parental supervision. 

However, with that independence comes a need to be aware of some of the dangers that you may encounter.

While many people won’t have a bad experience online, some might be subjected to grooming behaviour so it’s good to know what to do if you come across it.

 

What is grooming?

Grooming is when someone builds a relationship and emotional connection with you so they can manipulate, exploit and/or abuse you.

It can be done through social media networks or the online games that you play.

Groomers use tactics such as pretending to be younger than they are, giving advice and attention, showing understanding or buying you gifts.

It might be hard for you to recognise that you’re being groomed as you may feel affection for or loyalty toward the person grooming you.

 

Signs of grooming

It can be difficult to spot the signs of grooming in your friends or siblings as they could be written off as “normal” teenage behaviour. But there are some things that you should look out for:

  • Being very secretive about how they’re spending their time both online and offline.

     

  • Having gifts such as new clothes or electronics that they can’t or refuse to explain.

     

  • Being upset, withdrawn or distressed.

     

  • Spending more time away from home.

     

What should I do?

If you think you might be the victim of grooming,  it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and help and support are available to you and your family. 

  • Seek out a trusted adult such as a parent, carer, family member or teacher and talk to them about what’s going on.

  • Remember that it’s not your fault. 

  • Take screenshots of any evidence of the grooming such as screenshots of conversations or messages.

  • Stop the communication but don’t delete the account as the Gardaí may need it for evidence. 

  • Do not confront the alleged groomer.

  • Report everything to An Garda Síochana and/or the Garda Child Sexual Abuse Helpline 1800 555 222. You can also call Childline on 1800 66 66 66. 

Points to Consider

  • Grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. 

  • Some symptoms include; Being very secretive about how they’re spending their time both online and offline, having gifts such as new clothes or electronics that they can’t or refuse to explain and sexualised behaviour, language or an understanding of sex that’s not appropriate for their age.

  • Stop the communication but don’t delete the account as the Gardaí may need it for evidence. 

  • Report everything to An Garda Síochana and/or the Garda Child Sexual Abuse Helpline 1800 555 222.