Internet Child Grooming-Why it can happen and how you can protect your child from it
Grooming isn’t something any parent wants to think about let alone speak to your child about it yet digging your head in the sand is not going to help with this issue especially if it comes knocking on your door. No one ever wants to think that something this serious could happen to their child but the reality is it is happening now and every day before, to someone’s child out there. Ignorance is not bliss as grooming if anything is growing and there are so many things to think about in how to keep your children safe.
Firstly, your child needs to know that this exists, so many kids have admitted to their parents what has happened to them but very few realise that this is grooming. Many would say they have never heard of it before or if they did they never really understood it. So, the first thing you can do is to explain to your child what grooming is and how common it is yet it is rarely spoken about.
Tell your child about the dangers online and why their phones and tablets must be supervised as it is for their own safety. Explain it as age appropriately as you can, but if your kid has access to phones and laptops they should have the maturity to understand the basics of grooming. Prepare your child for sexting and cyberbullying by talking about it though it may not be a nice subject the fact of the matter is kids as young as 10 are sexting and bullying kids online.
Never take your eye off the ball and always be aware of the signs of grooming usually a child will self-harm, withdraw from their family, be secretive and protective of their phones or tablets, have new stuff, lose their appetite and seem depressed but some days overly happy. Any change in your child’s personality is a cause for concern and noticing these things will give you a chance to sort out the problem or issue before anything untoward happens to your kid.
Accept that while your child may know about grooming that they may fall short of realising when they are at risk. Grooming affects boys and girls, at different ages and the perpetrators can be male or female. The groomers may be friends, family or a stranger and they will lie and manipulate your child to do exactly as they want. By the time your child realises there is something wrong they may well be in too deep.
Be honest and open with your child as when they have a problem they need to be able to come to you and not feel scared. They need to know that whatever is wrong that you will support them without screaming abuse at them.
Grooming isn’t something anyone should dismiss or believe that it cannot happen to their youngster as this simply isn’t true. Anyone can become a target the question is does your child have the understanding and confidence to speak up if grooming begins to occur. Awareness is key as the minute your child gets asked to do something untoward they should have the knowledge and trust to speak up to an adult they trust.
Grooming is not something that will go away unfortunately, but you can protect your child and make sure it doesn’t happen to them by teaching them about their personal safety.