Child Grooming refers to an act of deliberately establishing an emotional connection with a child to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation for child abuse. Child grooming is undertaken usually to carry out sexual abuse and other child exploitation like trafficking of children, child prostitution or the production of child pornography.
In the U.S. child grooming is considered a federal offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2422. the provision of the section reads as:
(a) Whoever knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(b) Whoever, using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 5 years and not more than 30 years.
Protecting Your Children
As a preventative measure, it is recommended to always pay attention to your child and the people in your child’s life. Do not yield the responsibility of your child to others without question of their character and intent. Parents should know their child’s teachers, coaches, day care providers, youth group leaders, their friends’ parents/caregivers, and other significant adults involved in their lives. Ask questions, and more questions, and more questions if needed. Stay involved and aware and make it a habit to make unannounced visits. These are the best strategies to protect your child from sexual predators.
It is also critical that you talk to your child, using age appropriate language, about appropriate and inappropriate touch and interactions with others (relative and non-relatives; adults and other children/adolescents). Also teach your child to recognize grooming behavior. Most importantly teach them to trust you with their problems and assure them through your actions and not just your words that he can always bring his problems and concerns to you at anytime without penalty or criticism.
If you suspect your child is being groomed, immediately limit your child’s interactions with the individual in question. In a safe and supportive environment engage your child in a conversation, using age appropriate language, regarding their relationship and interactions with the individual. If you discover that your child has been sexually victimized contact legal authorities immediately for further action.
The above recommendations can be challenging to implement and at times may feel awkward, but it is better to be safe now than sorry later.