Is the act of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child or adult , to lower their inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity, or exploitation such as child labor, slave labor or trafficking.

It is an offense to arrange a meeting with a child, for oneself or someone else, with the intent of sexually abusing the child. The meeting itself is also criminalized.

 The Danger

There have always been people willing to use deception and charm to try and exploit the trust of children so they may manipulate them or lure them into a false sense of security. They will often try to exploit problems at home or a child’s unhappiness with their parents. Another way was to offer them expensive presents. Sex offenders are often smart, careful and patient as well. 

Young adults are also often vulnerable as they are easily enticed with the offer of money or other expensive gifts. The Internet made it easier for sex offenders to pose as children and use this false identity to befriend children in chat rooms or using social network sites, although some offenders use their real identities online.


Children often believe that the more friends they have in their friends list of a social network or instant messaging program then the more popular they must be. This means they will often respond to friend requests without thinking first if they actually know the person or not. Children are often unable to understand that somebody online may not be who they say they are.

The offender will then exploit and try to control their victim.

Many sex offender also groom adults as part of their process of grooming children and will seek to befriend family members and other trusted adults in children’s lives.

 Signs To Look Out For

In many cases those carrying out the grooming are known to the family and child. Look for signs in the relationship between an adult and a child. Is the adult very dominant or very protective even though they are not a parent? Do they often talk to the child alone? Are they always buying them gifts? Does a child suddenly have lots of money or gifts?

Watch for a child acting nervous or agitated when a certain person turns up to visit. Look for the common signs of emotional turmoil (See list in What is E-Safety.)

Sometimes children think it is their fault for speaking with the offender and are worried that they will be in trouble so are afraid to disclose their concerns. Children should be aware of the importance of reporting anything online that makes them feel worried, scared or uncomfortable either to a trusted adult or the Police or CEOP. If you feel that something is not right phone the police or CEOP.


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