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Protect Your Child from Sexual Grooming

TOUCH Youth Intervention

Protect Your Child from Sexual Grooming

TOUCH Youth Intervention (TYI) has observed that online sexual grooming is becoming more prevalent with youth spending more time online, and accessing more sexual content which is easily accessible online. Our counsellors have also seen several cases referred by schools where teenagers were sexually groomed online by an acquaintance they met at a social event.

But what exactly is online sexual grooming, how does it occur, and how should it be addressed? We find out more from the TYI counsellors.

What is online sexual grooming?

Online sexual grooming is the act of building up a trusting and emotional relationship with a minor on digital or social media platforms, usually with the purpose of sexual exploitation, gratification and/or abuse.

How does it occur?

Online predators typically target minors through ways such as shared or common interests such as community or hobby groups. The predators prey on the minors’ naivety, innocence about sexual behaviour, and easy temptation with gifts and favours. The predators also provide misinformation about topics on sexual conduct and activities.

What are the warning signs that parents may spot in their children?

  1. Signs can be hard to detect. When children and youths are excessively secretive about their online interaction with others, or resistant to parents checking or going through their online posts and content, it might be a cause of concern.
  2. Having much older boyfriends or girlfriends
  3. Going out of the way or to remote places to meet up with friends
  4. Having new items like clothes, phones or excessive cash which cannot be accounted for
  5. Display of unusual behavioural traits such as withdrawal, anxiety, depression, aggression or clinginess

 

What should parents of victims do?

If sexual grooming is suspected, parents should secure the devices (mobile phones or tablets) where most of the online interaction took place, collect evidence such as taking screen shots of the interaction between the child and online predator, and make a police report immediately.

Parents may also call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 on weekdays from 9am to 6pm if they need to speak to our counsellors who specialise in youth related issues.