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Grooming is when an adult builds an emotional connection with a child or young person to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation.

What is Grooming?

Grooming can happen quickly, in a matter of weeks, or develop over a longer period, months or even years. Children and young people can be groomed online, in person or both. 

The groomer builds a trusting relationship with the child or young person, and in some occasions even with the family.


Anybody can be a groomer they do not have a particular look, they can be male or female and can be from any area of the child's life; family member, teacher, professional, friend or a complete stranger.


This can even happen in your own home.

Types of Grooming

Children and young people can be groomed anywhere; home, school, online by a stranger or someone they know who has targeted them - usually a family member, friend or professional.​

Below are a few examples of what a groomer might do:

  • Pretend to be someone they are not online; for example, the same age, same interests.

  • Buy items for the young person as a 'gift' to create a 'debt'.

  • Give the child/young person attention and affection.

  • Use their professional position or reputation to create trust or opportunities to be with the young victim.

  • Take them on trips, outings or holidays.

  • Offer advice or understanding.

Signs of Grooming

It can be difficult to spot the signs of grooming as they may be hidden in plain sight.


Some of the signs you might see include:


  • having an older boyfriend or girlfriend

  • underage drinking or drug taking

  • spending more time away from home or going missing for long periods of time

  • being very secretive

  • having money or new things that they can't explain

  • sexualised behaviour, language or an understanding of sex that's not appropriate for their age

  • spending more time on their devices

  • inappropriate language or sexual behaviour


Report Grooming

If you spot one or more signs of grooming, contact the NSPCC with your concerns, you can also contact your local child protection services or the police if you prefer.

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