Grooming: what it is and how to prevent it
While it is true that the use of the Internet can benefit learning, feed the imagination and develop communication skills in children, It is an activity that must be under the supervision of adults, given the different vices that have spread through the network, as is the case of the grooming.
The grooming, translated into Spanish as ‘pedophile deception’, is a type of harassment directed at both children and adolescents. Although it can happen in the real world, it is more common to happen on the internet, which is why parents must implement special settings to protect their children.
What is grooming?
The grooming or pedophile cheating is a form of sexual harassment in which an adult approaches children, adolescents and young people with the intention of gaining their trust, creating emotional bonds, and then engaging them in sexual activity.
This crime can materialize in different ways, either by talking about sex, asking for intimate photographs or practicing the act itself. There is also the possibility that the groomer or the abuser seeks to introduce the minor into a child prostitution network or use it to create pornographic material.
Now, although the deception is usually done more frequently via the internet, May exist groomers in the environment in which children are handled. The bully may be in the family, in the neighborhood, at school, or at church.
Since you need the trust of the child and family, you can approach with a false identity or using a position of power or professional reputation. Similarly, you can offer help, give gifts, and invite them on trips, outings, and parties.
At online grooming, name by which this type of harassment is known when it is carried out online, the abuser presents himself as a minor and it is expressed as a person of the same age as the victim would.
A study published in Journal of Child Sexual Abuse showed that bullies pretended to be younger when it came to approaching male victims.
For its part, seeks to gain your trust until you convince him to send you intimate photos or a meeting is made. You could also send sexual content to the minor, which results in a form of violence that can be just as dangerous.
Also read: What is mobbing and what are its consequences?
How to detect if my child is a victim of grooming?
Cyberbullying is based on manipulation and deception. If your child reached the point of extortion and blackmail after sharing an intimate image, you will notice changes in his habits, moods and the way he relates to others.
When a minor is a victim of grooming there is usually a change in your habits. Although not everyone acts in the same way, some of the most common behaviors are the following:
- Spending a lot of time talking to a person.
- Feeling nervous when you are around and they are talking to the abuser.
- Hide your conversations.
- Decrease your ability to concentrate and interest in other activities.
- Skipping classes and lowering your grades.
- Having eating disorders.
The grooming it can also affect your child's moods. This could present sudden mood swings (sadness, irritability, indifference), aggressive reactions and constant tension.
As your habits, interests, and moods change, it is normal for your child's relationships with others to be harmed. Pay attention if you observe behaviors like this:
- Change your group of friends suddenly or without explanation.
- React in an extreme way when certain topics are raised in conversation or joked about it.
- Stop leaving home out of fear or insecurity.
- Reduce communication with people who naturally support the minor (family, friends, teachers).
- Change the way you relate to adults.
Finally, there are the physical changes that can be evidenced through frequent aches and pains, unexplained injuries and modifications in body language when being with certain people.
Tips to prevent grooming
As parents, it is necessary control and supervise the way children use the internet. To do this, we propose some tips that could prevent your children from suffering from this type of abuse.
Teach your kids to surf safely
To prevent your children from becoming victims of grooming you must teach them safe browsing habits, such as not logging into shared computers, not connecting to unknown people's networks, not providing or leaving personal images or information visible.
In the same way, it is advisable to establish some rules of the use of the internet at home to guarantee safety. For example, set a time and place of use (preferably a common space).
Stay alert to their online conversations
Children tend to consider that a person is not unknown after talking to them a couple of times. And if you consider that the attacker may be someone they know in person, the risk is even greater.
In that sense, parents should be attentive to the conversations their children have and teach them to be cautious about their personal information.
Avoid risky practices
Practices like sexting they are very common among teenagers. Nevertheless, because they are common does not mean that they represent less risk.
On the internet it is easy to impersonate other people, so sharing intimate images or meeting strangers should be avoided at all costs.
Be careful when using the camera
If the child is very young or not mature enough to have his own mobile phone or computer, it is better that his contact with the internet continues to be through you.
In this way you can prevent them from sending photos or making video calls in which they show intimate shots without meaning to or without being aware.
Talk to your children about the possible vices of the internet
When you talk to your kids about love, sexuality, and healthy relationships they might be less likely to be victims of grooming. Similarly, if they are big enough, they should know about these kinds of dangers plaguing the web and how to act.
This goes hand in hand with fostering communication with your children. In this way, there will be no secrets and you will be able to know in a transparent way the pages you visit and the friends with whom you communicate frequently. Likewise, they will have greater confidence to come to you if they feel uncomfortable.
Monitor your children's use of the internet
A minor cannot connect to the internet without adult supervision. It is good practice to make them aware of why you are doing it, until they learn to navigate safely and responsibly.
Get hold of parental control systems. Even some current phones are already pre-installed with an application that allows you to limit the use of activities.
Discover: Children don't need mobiles: the best gift is your time with them
Grooming requires parental care
The Internet has two faces; it can be extremely beneficial, as it can also cause you to encounter the worst in human beings. A terrible case is the sexual harassment of children or adolescents by unscrupulous people. As a responsible parent or guardian you must take steps so that your loved one is not a victim of grooming.
Having a talk with your children about the dangers they run when browsing the internet, explaining that there are people with bad intentions, being careful with the camera of mobile devices and staying alert to the online conversations they have are some of the tactics that could help you avoid an unpleasant experience.
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