What is grooming? This is a great question and one, which is really hard to answer, because grooming is also very hard to detect. But that is what we are doing in this “Your Questions Answered Series….” so I will do my best to give some perspective here. If you are a parent, teacher, carer or someone who works with children then you need to know what grooming is… but more than that, if we all had a better idea, we might spot the early warning signs, and perhaps save someone from a terrible injustice.
Before you can see grooming happening- you need to know what grooming is.
Maybe I could pose the question differently as this… What is luring? What is coaxing? What is baiting? What is bribing? See I never knew I was being groomed as a child and when I did, I was already caught, hooked, lied to and sunk, I took the bait… just a little fish in a big sea. What I didn’t know was how I was caught and why, until it was too late. I was caught for a good 8 years before I was able to find a way to make it stop, but I didn’t know how it started until much later in life. Much later; much too late… but not too late for some… which is why I spend my time writing and doing what I am doing… so please keep reading!
As we move forward to tackling this issue of sexual abuse, states across Australia have implemented an offence of grooming and it probably has the best definition I can find.
S218 B of the Criminal Code, Grooming of a child under 16 years includes facilitating the procuring of a person to engage in a sexual Act
Expose without reason the person to ANY indecent matter.
We defined sexual abuse and indecent acts in blog number 2 of this, “Your Questions Answered Series.
NOTE: There does not need to be physical contact to be considered grooming….
The penalty is harsher if the child is under 12 years of age.
What’s important? The word Procure: grooming targets individuals who are communicating with a child or even the family of the child with the intent to commit child sexual abuse, engage in a sexual act or an indecent act.
Without writing out the entire legislation, to be charged with this offence, it needs to be shown that the offending person knew the victim was under the age of 16. For the full legislation definition you can click this LINK
The problem with grooming is you really can’t see it happening and unfortunately for children they don’t know that it is occurring or indeed what the intention may be. It is difficult because the predator is building an emotional connection with the child to then create a level of trust. This in turn creates a prison that the child or young person does not generally realise they are in and they can feel trapped and feel the need to act on what they are asked. It is obviously a very complex area, but over the next few blogs I hope to enlighten you.
A paedophile is calculating and like my uncle, very cunning. Remember it is only an offence when there is intent to exploit the child or victim for a sexual means…
The question is how will you know this is happening? What does it look like? Where do you draw the line for your family? I will answer this in my next blog in this “Your Questions Answered Series,” blog number 7 on how to spot grooming.
Who can be a groomer? What you should know is that grooming can occur anywhere with anyone, male and female, old and young. They are every background and nationality, every size, weight and height.
Who can be groomed? Who can be groomed- anyone. Anyone can be groomed. A person can be groomed or a group of people. Whatever way a predator can use when they have intent to exploit the relationship for sexual purposes means grooming has occurred.
We have to be mindful of the people in our lives and remember that grooming can happen over a number of years- and like my Uncle, he was always around, loving, supporting and cleverly manipulating our family to get what he wanted. No one would have predicted what he would do. He was always so close to our family and used his position in the family to gain trust. Then he exploited it and left long term damage in the form of his betrayal. (Remember not everyone is like my Uncle- but being mindful of who is surrounding our family is important) in my next blog I will explore some differences that would give you cause to question a relationship and the motives.
Grooming that occurs in the family and of all types of betrayals; for me is one of the hardest to understand. It is also the behaviour of any paedophile, to gain the trust of their victim… and then exploit it through any means… online, in a workplace, at a school, in a sporting group or anywhere. Now more than ever we face a battle with grooming online in silent pathways where young people all over the world are being targeted.
S474 of the Criminal Code prohibits the use of a carrier service (i.e. Phone or internet) to procure a person under 16 for an indecent or sexual matter.
Sonya Ryan, the CEO and Founder of the Carly Ryan Foundation fights daily for young people in the online space after her daughter Carly was murdered by an online predator who posed as a 17 year old male. In Sonya’s fight to make change Carly’s law has been passed where predators cannot lie about their age online with the intent to cause harm to a child under 16 years of age.
This new law will give police the power to intervene before predators have a chance to act (or groom a child), and will also serve as a strong deterrent, with a tough new sentence of 10 years prison for convicted offenders. You can read about this article here:
If you need assistance or advice on Internet related issues you can contact The Carly Ryan Foundation in the links below.
In my next Blog I will give you signs to look for and some ideas on how to set your boundaries as a family.
Take care and look after each other.
Every situation is different and each situation has its own very complex circumstances. There are no hard and fast answers, what I say here is my experience- and my own opinion supported at times by research.
This stuff is not black and white. It just can’t be. What is black and white/ right and wrong is that Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence is never ok, and it is never under any circumstances right.
What is grey is in fact terribly dark… That is the silence that sits surrounding this topic. The shame and absolute fear so heavily laden on the shoulders of victims that the mere thought of speaking brings crippling anxiety and fear.
Lets change that… together.
For further support you can click HERE:
If you are in immediate danger, please call 000 in Australia.
To report sexual abuse to police- please attend a Police Station or call 131444 for Policelink. (Australia)
To seek support or assistance you can contact me, www.kellyhumphries.com (I am a single entity who can offer advice, and personal coaching. I am not a psychologist or registered counsellor, but I am very approachable and happy to help.
For internet related advice please contact The Carly Ryan Foundation http://www.carlyryanfoundation.com
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