Apr 1, 2011

“TRUST” and the Despicable Art of Grooming

The subject of online predators is not one that many of us want to dwell on or even talk about.  The newly released film, TRUST, has thrust this topic front and center into our lives.

As parents we are the first line of defense in protecting our kids offline and online.  Every tool in our arsenal helps when we educate our children to navigate safely and securely.  So, while online predators may not be a subject we want to talk about, it is something we need to be educated on.

As counter-intuitive as it may be, online predators work in the exact same way child molesters work in the real world.  Put simply, the predator engages in a seemingly innocuous process called “grooming.”  A predator will gain your child’s trust and manipulate your child into thinking he is his or her boyfriend – with the constant and focused goal of meeting your child privately where the ‘consensual’ attack occurs.

“TRUST” focuses carefully on this ‘grooming’ process where a predator meets Annie, an unsuspecting teenager, and slowly begins a friendship designed to break down her natural barriers and eventually manipulate and condition her into believing that she is truly in love with this person.

What makes 14-year-old Annie at risk and susceptible to such an attack?  The film offers some telling insight about how the groomer operates.  Annie was experiencing a series of events that put her at risk and, thus, at the mercy of a predator.  Her father was busy at work, her brother whom she had a special bond with was going away to college, her desire to be with the cool girls in school wasn’t happening, and she was desperate to make it onto the volleyball team.  Much like in the real world, Annie was at risk and when she chatted about her life’s struggles online, the predator was there to support her every step of the way.

As in the movie, grooming can start in ways that can seem innocent enough to children, pre-teens and teens, but essential to the predator’s end goal is gaining your child’s trust.

Here is a must read to get a good grasp on grooming.

Child grooming is an ugly and horrible threat both offline and online.  Knowing what it is helps us be the parents we all strive to be and guard against this atrocity.

Learn more about the grooming process with this short video below from Enough Is Enough.