The 7 P’s to Recognizings the Signs of Grooming
Online child predators are continually using unique and clever tactics to get in touch with children. They are also communicating with each other to learn better ways to identify victims’ vulnerabilities to create trust with them online. This is what we call grooming.
“Predators cast a wide net to find a vulnerable child to groom, it’s not a matter of if your child iscontacted by a predator, it’s when,” says CRC’s Founder, Carly Yoost. As parents it is important to not only to open up discussion with your children about the dangers of grooming behaviors, but also know the signs so you can intercept and end the communication.
Safe Surfin’s Moe McClanahan shared with us what she saw as an investigator in terms of signs to identify your child is being groomed.
The 7 P’s of Grooming
- Praise (Flattery) – This can look as innocent as “you are really pretty/handsome I’d love to see more of you.” They will play into the child denying being pretty, acting shy in response and having self-esteem vulnerabilities. Many times, when I would work undercover chat investigations, I would receive flattery from predators just seeing my profile picture which was only an image of my eye with a little bit of my bangs. They would ask for more pictures after learning I was only 13-years-old.
- Precocious Conversation – This is a way to feel out the child and see if they are interested. The conversation will start out asking if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, if they’ve ever kissed and then if they’ve done more. If the child reveals personal details about past relationships, then the predator has started the process of gaining their trust. The escalation may lead to asking them what the child is wearing, looking to see if the child will be willing to divulge. This may lead to conversation about masturbation, sexual contact, or sharing links to pornography or child sexual abuse material.
- Photo sharing – As the predator feels out the child’s responses to the above topics they will either first send a naked image to the child to gauge interest in sexual talk or contact. They might ask the child to send naked images of themselves. Most children want reassurance that they are beautiful with and without clothes on to feel better about themselves, not realizing that it’s causing them harm.
- Privacy – If you see your child is being asked to keep a conversation secret, it should raise a flag. Portions of the conversation may have already been deleted by the time you read it so be aware you may have missed grooming behavior or sharing of images.
- Pressure – Blackmail threats come in different forms and can lead to what is called sextortion. When a child is asked to send naked images and does, the predator may request more images and threaten to expose the child to family and friends if they don’t send more. Images then lead to videos and/or requirement of sexual acts. Those images and videos are eventually shared on adult sites or sold on the dark web. This is considered sextortion. Another form of blackmail is when the predator requests money or they will expose the child’s photos on the open web for everyone to see. Many children have committed suicide from these types of threats.
- Presents – The predator will try trickery such as sending gifts to win the trust of the child if other grooming tactics are not working. They may send gift cards (even electronic, so monitor their email), clothing, cell phones, or jewelry. Be mindful of the packages in the mail and if your child has extra Robux or Vbux on their gaming platforms.
- Pulling away – Another form of grooming is through emotional/verbal abuse from the predator. They will reinforce to the child that they are the only ones who truly understand them and care about them and that the child should be making more time for them if they cared about them too. The predator may even threaten to “break up” or end communication if the child doesn’t give in to their wishes. Look for signs in the conversations that the predator is possessive.
Be aware of these signs of grooming behaviors to keep your kids safe from predators, and so you can intervene early if you notice any of these changes. If you’re unsure where to start, you’re not alone. That’s why we partnered with the Safe Surfin’ Foundation to release a free E-Book, C.R.A.M.: A Parent’s Study Guide to Managing Kids & Technology.
With C.R.A.M., you’ll learn practical tips to keep your kids safe online, how to talk to kids about predators by age group, how to recognize the signs of grooming, what to do if a predator contacts your child, and you’ll get device settings and safety tips for popular online games. Download your free copy today!