Online grooming refers to the process by which a predator establishes an emotional connection with a child through the use of the Internet, with the goal of exploiting the child for any illegal activity such as pornography, drug abuse or financial fraud etc.
This process often involves a predator posing as a child or teenager themselves in order to gain the trust of the child, and can take place on a variety of platforms including social media, gaming sites, chat rooms, and forums. Once the predator has established a relationship with the child, they will often try to elicit personal information, photos or videos from the child, and may even try to arrange a meeting in person. They may also use threats or manipulation to keep the child from telling anyone about the interactions.
Online grooming is a serious crime that can have lifelong consequences for the child involved. It is important for parents, guardians, and educators to be aware of the risks and to teach children how to stay safe online.
Let’s see some examples how criminals groom children online...
One example of how a criminal might engage in online grooming is by posing as a teenager on a social media platform, and reaching out to a child who is also using the platform. The predator may start by commenting on the child's posts or sending them messages that seem friendly and innocent. They may also try to find out personal information about the child, such as their age, school, or hobbies. As the predator establishes a relationship with the child, they may start to introduce intimate content into their conversations. They may also try to convince the child to send them nude photographs or videos, or to meet with them in person. They might use manipulation tactics like promising the child special gifts, attention or a romantic relationship or threatening to hurt or harm the child or their loved ones if they don't comply.
The best safeguard against online grooming – DCIM education for the child and a strong communication channel between the child and the parents on digital issues.
It's important to note that online groomers can be anyone, and they can use different tactics and methodologies to lure children into their trap. It's crucial for children and their parents, guardians and educators to be aware of the risks and to be vigilant in protecting themselves from online grooming.
Digital Citizenship & Internet Maturity skills are a must for a child to understand the nature of different social media and threats associated with them. They also ensure that the child knows how to deal with strangers online. DCIM skills include understanding how to protect personal information, how to recognize and report online bullying and harassment, and how to be a good digital citizen by respecting the rights and privacy of others.
An Internet mature child is able to critically evaluate online content, recognize and avoid online predators, and make safe and responsible decisions about online interactions with strangers. That child will understand the importance of not sharing personal information online, and will be able to recognize when someone is asking for too much information.
It's absolutely essential for parents, guardians, and educators to build a strong channel of communication with their children and discuss the risks of online grooming. They must ensure that the child learns and practices DCIM skills thereby knowing how to stay safe online.