Online Grooming

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Here we talk about Online Grooming, tips on how you can spot it and ways to keep yourself safe.

What is Online Grooming

Online groomers use the internet to chat with children and young people. They can make their victims believe that they are friends, but they have bad intentions on their mind. For example, they can pressure a child or young person to send them naked pictures or to do something criminal. Sometimes they will pretend to be someone else - they could say that they are a young person of the same age, but in reality they might be much older.

Where on the Internet Can Grooming Happen?

  • Video games - particularly online platforms
  • Social media
  • Discussion forums
  • Chat rooms
  • Dating apps
  • and more

7 Signs of an Online Groomer

  1. Secrets: They prefer to talk to you through private messages or DMs. They might ask you not to tell your parents or friends about them. They might also ask you to trust them.

  2. Lots of Messages: They might give you a lot of attention and send you a lot of messages, sometimes even through different apps or websites.

  3. They Ask a Lot of Questions: A groomer might want to know where you use your phone and if your parents are nearby. They might be also be very interested in you and ask many questions about you and your interests. It is also possible that they will try to get your personal details, such as your school or address. These questions might seem very innocent – but these are often used by a groomer to try to find out more about you, where you usually hang out, what your weak points are, and eventually try to use this information against you.

  4. They Are Really Nice: A groomer will try to make you feel really special or loved. They might say nice things, try to give you advice, or even send you gifts. But they only do this because they want something from you, not because they are nice people.

  5. Sexual Messages: This often start with something small like a compliment about your looks. They could also ask if you have ever kissed someone. After a while they might ask you for a picture of you, or try to start a video chat in which they might try to ask you to do sexual stuff.

  6. They Ask for Favours: Some online groomers want naked pictures, some want to meet up in person and some want you to do something criminal, like carrying or hiding something for them (e.g. drugs). They might even threaten or blackmail you.

  7. Every Groomer is Different: These are only examples of what a groomer might do. Some groomers will use all of these tactics, while others will only use a few of them.

What Can I Do to Keep Myself Safe?

Keep Things Private

Check your privacy settings and make sure that only your friends can see your social media profiles.

Don’t share your personal details online, for example your real name, location, school, or age.

They're Not Always Strangers

Sometimes it might feel like we actually know someone we have only met online. Even if you have shared many chats and laugh with someone for weeks or months, remember that it's very easy to pretend to be someone else when hiding behind a screen. Don't risk it - never meet up with someone that you only know online.

When a stranger sends you a message or a friend request, it’s best to delete it. When someone makes you feel uncomfortable, report them or block them.

Sometimes online groomers can be people from your online world – even family members.

Some Secrets Shouldn't Be Kept

Groomers will work very hard to make you feel safe and comfortable. That is why you might not even realise that somebody is trying to harm you. But you can recognise a groomer if that person is asking you to keep it a secret!

  • If someone from the internet asks you to keep a secret from your parents – don't keep that secret.
  • If any adult asks you to keep a secret from your parents - don't keep that secret.
  • If you have been told that sharing that secret will get you into trouble or harm you in any way - don't believe them.


If You Think You’re Being Groomed

Step 1. Know that You Won’t Get In Trouble

Tell a trusted adult, and know that you won't get in trouble. It’s not your fault if you’re being groomed. There are people that can help you out of the situation.

Step 2. If You Feel Safe Tell Them To Stop

If you feel safe doing so, you can start by telling the groomer to stop.

Step 3. Stop Responding and Block Them

A groomer might continue messaging you and make threats. But you can take control of the situation - stop responding and block them.

Step 4. Get Help and Report It

Tell a trusted adult if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. Remember, you won’t get in trouble - even if the groomer says that you will. You can also anonymously reach out to a Childline counsellor to share your experience, or make a report to the CEOP. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.