When an adult becomes friends with a child, this is sometimes done for a reason. The reason is to lower the inhibitions of the child and to prepare for sexual abuse. So, action taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child, with the intent of later having sexual contact, is ‘child grooming’. Child grooming is also regularly used to lure minors into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution, or the production of child pornography.
The grooming is done to gain the child’s trust, and the trust of those responsible for the child. Children are less likely to report a crime if it involves someone the child knows, trusts, and cares about. Also, a relationship with the family means the child’s parents will be less likely to believe any accusations.
Characteristics of child grooming are: taking interest in someone’s child, giving gifts or money to the child for no obvious reason, invading the child’s privacy (walking in on him/her in the bathroom) and allowing the child to get away with behavior that is not right. Other example may be hugging, kissing, or other physical contact if the child does not want this attention.
Sexual grooming of children also occurs on the Internet. Some abusers will pose as children online and make arrangements to meet with them in person. Online grooming of children is most prevalent within the 13–17 age group (99% of cases), and particularly 13–14 (48%). The majority of targeted children are girls, and most victimization occurs with mobile-phone support.