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Busting the grooming myths

Updated: Apr 19

There are lots of myths about grooming that we work hard to dispel when we visit schools and businesses. Some of them are commonly held beliefs and some are perpetuated by the media; all of them can be dangerous as they mean we may not be as alert to potential grooming as we should. Here are four of the biggest myths:

  1. Groomers are older men Lewis Daynes was only 18 years old when he lured Breck to his death. Groomers can be any age. Lewis had already been in trouble with the police for attacks on younger boys, and had been talking to some of Breck’s friends for up to four years.

  2. Only girls are groomed. Again, clearly this is not the case, as we can see from Breck’s story. In fact, around a third of grooming victims are boys. Only one in five boys will report it though, underlining the need to educate everyone on what grooming is and the need to report it straight away.

  3. Vulnerable children are obvious. It's often thought that the quiet or introverted child, or the one with fewer friends or who is less popular, is more likely to become a victim of grooming. The truth, though, is that anyone can be groomed – whether you are clever, popular or cool. Grooming is a trick, so the more skilled the groomer, the more people they can trick. Techniques are sophisticated and play on children’s trusting natures.

  4. Groomers are ‘new’ friends Sometimes this may be the case. But often, groomers are patient and can wait around for the right moment to strike. Many, like Lewis, take months or even years building up trusting relationships. Media often focus on the headline-grabbing stories of children groomed in frighteningly short times, but the truth is that there is no set amount of time it takes to groom. Each case is different.

If you are worried about a child who may have been groomed, report it to CEOP, the online police, here.

Sarah Smith

Foundation Speaker

Take action today and help end online grooming crimes

Only by working together can we help young people reclaim the internet 

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