Individuals who sexually abuse and exploit children come from all walks of life and cannot be easily identified. It is essential to pay attention to behaviours and situations that present risk, rather than to focus on an individual’s appearance, character, and/or marital status/relationship history. A well-liked individual that contributes to their community is not exempt from having the capacity to sexually exploit or harm a child. Research reveals that individuals who sexually abuse children usually know their victims in some capacity.
The process known as “grooming” comprises a variety of techniques used by an offender to access and control potential and actual child victims. The process requires the offender to have access to the child, time with the child and a certain level of interpersonal skills. The goal is to gain the child’s trust and co-operation (and is also sometimes used to gain the trust of the child’s family), decreasing the likelihood that the child will tell anyone about the abuse. Offenders may use a combination of attention, affection, kindness, privileges, recognition, gifts, alcohol, drugs, and/or money to groom a child for the purpose of lowering inhibitions and increasing the chance of successfully offending against a child.
The purpose of grooming is: