Why Grooming Behavior Is So Hard To Recognize

Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2022 at 5:02 pm    

We know that unusually close relationships between an adult and a child can be suspicious, but often we don’t catch on to the issues until it’s too late. Grooming has been in the news frequently in recent months, with many celebrities being accused of grooming young starlets. But grooming isn’t just something that happens in Hollywood – it can, and does, happen anywhere.

What is grooming?

Grooming is a manipulation tactic. One of the reasons that grooming can be hard to recognize is because it happens slowly over time. The predator takes their time offering favors, presents, and other things in order to gain the trust of their victim. The predator tries to create a strong emotional bond, so that later when they start using this bond to their advantage, the victim trusts them too much to question anything. This trust is what makes victims of grooming so reluctant to report any untoward behavior. The betrayal is insidious and happens gradually, so that by the time things have gone awry the victim often doesn’t realize it. Additionally, victims of grooming are nearly always very young and inexperienced. The attention of someone older and seemingly wiser can be overwhelming to a young victim, and they may be dazzled by the affection, interest, and gifts.

Grooming can happen online

Another reason that grooming can be hard to catch is that it doesn’t always happen in front of you. Grooming can be more noticeable when it’s a teacher at your child’s school, a too-friendly neighbor, or another adult in your child’s life. While an online predator may never meet their victim, they can still have a serious and damaging impact. In some ways, online predators are more dangerous. You can’t monitor all of your child’s activity online, and an online predator can pretend to be anyone they want. A young child may be easily fooled into thinking that the person they’re talking to is a peer, instead of an older predator with less than honest intentions.

How to spot the signs of grooming

The best thing you can do for your child is stay alert. As much as possible, pay attention to who they talk about, who seems to have an important role in their life, and if they suddenly clam up about a certain person. If they have received gifts from an unknown source, or if someone seems to do a lot of favors, these are signs to be aware of. For their online activity, be aware of an inordinate amount of time spent online, and if your child refuses to open up about who they’re talking to or what they’re doing. Children tend to want to be independent and keep their friendships private, but if your child is keeping an excessive amount of secrets about one person in particular, you may want to press further. Explain to your child that friendships shouldn’t be secret, and if someone is convincing them to keep their friendship private, they should be wary.

If your child has been groomed by a predator, contact the compassionate childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. Even if the grooming happened online, the trauma is still real. Contact us today at (212) 779-0057 for a free and confidential review of your situation.

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