Grooming is when an adult tries to build a relationship with a child so that they can sexually exploit them. Exploitation isn’t always physical, it can happen online.
Groomers try to build an online relationship with the child though social media, chatting in a forum, chatting in an online game or via any other platform for online communication.
Some groomers will use a fake profile (similar to catfishing(external link)) and pretend to be a young person. Others will use their actual profile if they aren’t very old themselves. They might pretend to have an interest or friend in common, if they can gain this information by looking at the young persons’ profile on social media.
If they aren’t already talking to the child using private or direct message, they’ll try to move the conversation somewhere private online where others can’t see. The groomer will try to get close with the child and will sometimes spend a long time doing this (even months or years) before seeking anything sexual such as nude or nearly nude images or videos of the child, or having a sexual conversation with them.
If you want to learn more about how groomers get close to children and how they keep control, you can refer to Netsafe(external link).
Parental controls and privacy settings
It's important to protect the information your child shares online to made it more difficult for unwanted strangers to contact your child. See Parental controls and Privacy settings for more information about how to do this.
The Covert Online Investigation team is a specialist police unit that protects children from online abuse. If you are concerned about objectionable material online, see How to report a crime or incident(external link).
You can also contact Netsafe for help and advice:
- Free text: ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
- Freephone: 0508 NETSAFE
- Advice for parents about online grooming(external link)
If you have seen objectionable material online such as child sexual abuse you can report the content to the Department of Internal Affairs: Make a complaint(external link).
Not sure what objectionable material is? Find out more on the Internal Affairs website: What is objectionable and restricted material?(external link)
Where to get help
Safe to Talk – Sexual Harm Helpline:
- Text: 4334 and they will text you back.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Online chat: Visit safetotalk.nz(external link) & click on the “chat to someone” button at the bottom of the page