The Three Stages of Grooming That Should Never Be Ignored

It's important that the youngest members of society know the dangers they run on the Internet if they make irresponsible use of technology. One of the risks is that they become victims of grooming.
The Three Stages of Grooming That Should Never Be Ignored

Last update: 18 October, 2022

The different stages of grooming explain the harassment that an adult imposes on a minor through the use of technology. For example, some adults take advantage of social media such as Facebook or Instagram, among others, to harass minors. Thanks to the ease with which they can camouflage their identity or adulterate it according to their interests, these adults contact young people with the aim of sexually abusing them.

The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEPED) not only deals in depth with this type of harassment on social media but also indicates specific stages of grooming that shouldn’t be ignored. Therefore, it’s important for parents to educate their children on the proper use of technology and manage the time their children spend on the Internet or on social media. In fact, this is absolutely critical.

Ideally, there should be good communication at home so that minors can talk openly about any type of harassment or any particular individual they may have met on social media. This isn’t easy, especially when young people are in their teens. However, it’s well worth making the effort if it avoids them being harassed on the Internet.

Girl scared by grooming

1. Friendship stage, key to obtaining vital information

The first of the grooming stages is that of friendship. Behind a false profile, the individual tries to establish a friendship with a minor.

According to the AEPED, stalkers are usually married men who take advantage of the innocence and trust of young people in order to seduce them. In fact, they usually aren’t forthcoming about their age so that minors think that they’re not that old and start talking to them. Sometimes, if they choose to state their age, they do so as a show of confidence. This is a further advancement of the stage.

At this stage, the harasser knows the tastes of young people and what places they usually go to. At the same time, they’re able to figure out their weak points. This prepares the ground for them, in the future to use all the information that the minor provides them with to manipulate them. Furthermore, the harasser will tell the minor not to say anything to their parents because they wouldn’t understand. That’s why communication in the family is so important, as it stops this from happening.

“Grooming has increased in recent years.”


2. Relationship stage, personal and intimate confessions

The second of the grooming stages goes further. The groomer starts to make confessions and even send photos of themselves. They might use the excuse of asking the minor if they think their new outfit suits them. This is done to gain their trust and ask for reciprocity. They’ll shortly take it up a notch.

This is a really important stage, as it’s when the minor will begin to believe that the person on the other side of the screen is really their friend. Consequently, they’ll start to share more information about themselves, like their tastes and preferences, etc. This is the penultimate stage, before the final one with a sexual element.

The aggressor ends up exercising emotional control over the minor and, finally, moves on to blackmail for sexual purposes.”

-El Pais-

3. Stage with a sexual component: the manipulation begins

This is the last of the grooming stages and the most delicate. The harasser begins to ask the minor for photographs or even videos of their naked body, in explicit sexual positions. This material helps them to manipulate the young person so that they don’t say anything. However, at all times, young people should know that they’re protected. Indeed, the law condemns these practices. Furthermore, they’re criminal acts.

Talking to children from an early age and educating them in the responsible use of technology is essential. Likewise, minors should know that they’re protected by the law and that, at any time, they can talk to their parents and explain what’s happening.

Now that minors have the Internet, they need to know the risks they can run. Knowing not to accept invitations from strangers, even less from fake profiles or those without photographs but images that are taken from Google, etc,  is essential to avoid grooming.

A sad parent worried about child grooming.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.