Warning signs that your child is being ‘groomed’

Local News

There are five vital stages of child grooming every parent should know and be aware of.  

Statistically, in the state of Utah 1 in 5 children will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. The abuse knows no gender as they are almost equal. According to Prevent Child Abuse Utah, the statistics show that 54 percent of reported child abuse victims are girls while 46 percent are boys. 

90 percent of the time the abuse comes from someone the child knows and trust, making it harder for victims to come forward.  So how do you detect the signs of the different stages during the grooming cycle? 

According to Gwen Knight, School and Community Outreach Administrator for PCAU, the beginning stage is selection, where the abuser will select a child they are targeting for abuse. 

Knight says the next stage is engagement. This means the perpetrator will typically find a way to build a bond with the child as well as the parents. She advises being apprehensive to any adult that wants to spend alone time with your child. 

According to Knight, grooming starts following the engagement phase and abusers will test their limits with the child. Once certain boundaries are crossed, she says, this is when the assault takes place. 

After the assault, the abuser will intimidate the child into not telling anyone what happened. Knight calls this concealment. 

According to internetsafety101.org, grooming can also be done online where predators (typically an adult) may lie about their age to establish a connection with the child. 

The online groomer dialogue can start off innocent before leading to some type of deception. Knowledge of video games, popular music, favorite sports teams, and other hobbies will be revealed to make themselves seem relatable to the child, further gaining their trust.  

Ultimately the goal of an online predator to arrange an “in-person” meeting to engage in some type explicit activity with the child or teen. 

For more signs to look for you can visit their website.  

If you believe your child is being targeted by an online predator contact the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at  801.281.1211 or by emailing utahicac@agutah.gov.

Utah’s rate of sexual abuse is 28 percent, that’s three times the national average. The spiral effect of child abuse can be long lasting leading to anxiety, depression, trust issues and other issues later in life. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1-888-421-1100. 

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