As part of their “If you see something, say something” campaign, the SAPS has asked parents, community leaders and government officials to be aware of the dangers of child grooming and the effect it has on innocent children.
What is Child Grooming?
According to the SAPS, it is “befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child (and sometimes their family) to lower the child’s defenses for the purpose of sexual abuse.”
Children from as young as three years old have been targets of child grooming but mostly the victims are between the ages of 11 and 17. The majority of the cases happen to be teenagers, which normally occur over the internet. Children with attention-seeking behaviour normally fall prey to child grooming.
How does it happen?
Often child groomers will try to gain the parent or legal guardian’s trust to get to the child. Once they have a trusting relationship with the family, it gives them access to spend time with the child. It can either be by inviting the child for sleepovers or by offering to babysit.
“There have been several global instances of people in positions of power bribing parents with money or employment in exchange for time alone with a child.” reads the SAPS post.
Another tactic a child groomer will use is to approach children on the internet and pose as their peers before asking to meet up in person.
How can parents prevent or act against child grooming?
- Have strict measures in place so that children don’t fall prey to “sexual predators lurking on the net.”
- Supervise your children’s internet and social media access. Keep in mind that certain social media platforms have age restrictions and those are there for a reason.
- Educate your child on the threats of child grooming and urge them to only communicate with people they already know.
- Check for any changes in your child, especially being secretive about online activities, dating an older person, meeting people at strange places and suddenly having new possessions or access to alcohol or drugs.
How to find help?
Report any suspected child grooming to your nearest police station or you can call Crime Stop at 08600 10111 or Childline at 0800 055 555.
The SAPS pleas with the public, “Do not protect abusers, play your part to reject and report abusers. Do not look away because it is not your daughter, sister, mother, relative, neighbour or friend. Act now because Gender-Based Violence affect everyone in the community.”