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What is grooming?

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

Children and young people can be groomed anywhere; home, school, social events, places of employment and also online either by a stranger or someone they know - usually a family member, friend or professional.

Groomers do not have a particular look - they can be male or female and can be from any area of the victim's life.

Many young victims do not even recognise that that they have been groomed or that they are being abused.  This is because the abuser has slowly built a trusting relationship with the victim, and even the family.  The victim may think they are in love or that they are good or special friends with the groomer, when in fact the groomer is deliberately exploiting the mis-placed trust they have established with the victim and their family. 

Grooming leads to abuse, the abuse can happen both physically or online.


Groomers may spend a long time gaining a young victim's trust so the can start exploitation.  They can also gain trust of the whole family so that opportunities arise to be alone with the young victim. 

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.