Combating Grooming in Early Years

Safeguarding Guide



Combating Grooming in Early Years – Safeguarding Guide

More and more children are being groomed each year, with an 82% rise in online grooming crimes against children in the last 5 years.

This increasing our responsibility to know what grooming is, how it takes place and what we can do to protect the children in our care.

This is what we will go over in this video.

But first welcome to the channel.

Intro Vid

Welcome to the channel open a nursery, with myself Curtly Ania

Where I support you to open run and grow your own childcare business.

In today’s video we are going over grooming and what we can do to protect the children in our care.  This is part of the safeguarding videos, with videos like what is county lines and the prevent duty supporting you to have a better understanding of our safeguarding duties in early years.

So, what is grooming?

Grooming is when a person builds a relationship with a child, young person or an adult who is at risk, so they can abuse them and manipulate them into doing things.

Grooming is manipulative behaviour that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught. While these tactics are used most often against younger children, teens and vulnerable adults are also at risk.

Grooming is not just for sexual purposes, it can also be for exploitation, radicalisation or criminal exploitation.

The grooming process

Grooming can take place online or in person and usually follows a similar pattern.

  1. Victim Selection –

Firstly, the groomer selects a victim. Abusers often observe possible victims and select them based on ease of access to them or their perceived vulnerability.

  1. isolating the victim

Then the groomer seeks to isolate the victim.  Abusers will attempt to physically or emotionally separate a victim from those protecting them and often seek out positions in which they have contact with children, teens or young adults.  They may try to show a common interest or backstory and then create an us and them situation.

  1. Gaining Trust

Abusers will then attempt to gain the trust of a potential victim.

The child is conditioned to respect, trust and love their groomer. They may not understand they are being groomed because they consider their groomer to be a friend.

The groomer may also work to gain the trust of a whole family, to allow them to be left alone with a child. If the groomer works with children they may use similar tactics with their colleagues.

Groomers gain trust by:

  • pretending to be someone they’re not, for example saying they are the same age as the child online
  • offering advice or understanding
  • buying gifts
  • giving the child attention
  • using their professional position or reputation
  • taking the child on trips, outings or holidays
  1. Exert Power

Once they’ve established trust groomers will exploit the relationship by isolating the child from friends or family and making the child feel dependent on them. Groomers will use power and control to make a child believe they have no choice but to do what the groomer wants.

Groomers may introduce ‘secrets’ as a way to control or frighten the child. Sometimes they will blackmail the child or make them feel ashamed or guilty to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

  1. Desensitise the abuse

The final stage would be desensitise the child to the abuse, in order to convince the child to participate in it.

In terms of sexual grooming abusers will often start to touch a victim in ways that appear harmless, such as hugging, wrestling and tickling, and later escalate to increasingly more sexual contact, such as massages or showering together. Abusers may also show the victim pornography or discuss sexual topics with them, to introduce the idea of sexual contact.

With other forms of abuse it may take forms in other ways like normalising criminal activities like being around weapons and drugs or the use of violence.

Signs of abuse

It’s rare, especially with children that we care for, for a child to tell an adult about being groomed.

Children may not feel able to seek help because they:

  • are unaware that they’re being groomed
  • believe they are in a caring relationship and are worried about jeopardising it
  • are scared of what the groomer will do if they speak out
  • don’t want to get the groomer in trouble
  • blame themselves for getting involved in the relationship
  • are ashamed or worried about sharing what’s happened to them with other people.

Therefore, it is important for us to be able to recognise the signs that a child may be being groomed.  Some of these signs include:

  • sudden changes in behaviour
  • spending more time away from home nursery
  • having unexplained gifts, big or small
  • using sexual language or displaying sexual behaviour
  • seeming upset or withdrawn
  • Sore genitalia and repeated infections
  • New bed wetting
  • Changes to eating habits
  • Unexplained marks

Any child can be at risk of being groomed.  However, children who may be particularly vulnerable include:

  • looked after children and children known to social care
  • those with special educational needs and learning difficulties (SEND), for example those who experience social and communication difficulties

In order for us to protect the children in our care it is important for us to really understand the key things that we have discussed so far

  • What grooming is?
  • The typical grooming behaviours
  • The signs of grooming being displayed by children

We can also support our children by teaching our children about healthy relationships, helping them  develop the awareness and skills needed to keep safe online, teaching them how to identify the safe people and places where they can go to for support.

Grooming can have detrimental long-term effects on the victim so if you suspect someone of being groomed it is important you report your concerns as soon as possible and follow your nurseries safeguarding procedures. And as with all safeguarding concerns if you feel a child is at immediate risk, make sure you report this to the police.

The true extent of grooming in the UK is unknown as many cases go unreported, though it does usually lead onto other types of abuse like sexual abuse or county lines.  So, you should be aware of how to respond to these as well.  If you want more support with your safeguarding knowledge and practice, then check out the playlist that’s on the screen now,  where we cover topics like county lines and the prevent duty.

Click the link now and I’ll see you over there.  God bless.

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