What is grooming?
Child predators often lure (tempt a person to do something or to go somewhere, especially by offering some form of reward) children into sexual abuse by first gaining their trust and then use that to take advantage of the child by abusing them sexually. This is a form of abuse and it is known as child grooming. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is grooming?
Child grooming (also known as grooming) is when an older person becomes friends with a child under the age of 18 to groom them sexually. The older person gains the child’s trust so that the child can easily fall prey to their plan. Sometimes the adult also gains the child’s parents' trust so they don’t suspect them of doing anything wrong.
People who date younger people because of their young age and lack of experience, are often involved in this behaviour. This is illegal in South Africa as it is considered statutory rape to have sex or perform any sexual acts with someone who is not of consenting age.
Signs of grooming
You can be groomed both online or in real life by someone you know. An older person may try to make you feel comfortable around them and then once you are, they will show their sexual interest in you and convince you to take part in sexual activities. They may go as far as making you watch pornography, asking inappropriate questions about your genitals and sex, or even touching you inappropriately. Since they have gained your trust, you may think that you’ve consented to this, but they are older and should not be trying to have any sexual relations with a child.
How to prevent it
As a young person you can try and prevent grooming by not getting into a ‘friendship’ that requires you to spend time alone with a much older person. If an adult you trust starts talking to you about sex inappropriately or getting you to be sexual with them, then you can reach out to your parents, a teacher or the police and tell them about this. Organisations like Child Line can also help you identify grooming and assist you in finding help.
You can also call the Child Emergency Line on 0800 123 123, if you suspect that this is happening to someone you know.
Where to get help
If you suspect that you or a loved one might be in a situation where grooming is taking place then you can report this at your nearest police station, or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111, or Child Line on 0800 055 555. There are also organisations that offer counselling such as Life Line, which can help victims and their families deal with sexual abuse.
Remember that a victim of grooming might not be aware that they’re being groomed. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of grooming so that you can try and prevent it. It’s an act of sexual abuse and we need to educate ourselves, peers and families about it to bring it to an end.
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