What is grooming and online grooming?

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 also happen online.

Some groomers will use a fake profile (similar to catfishing) 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 messages; groomers will try to move the conversation to a private platform 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 doing anything sexual such as asking for nude (or nearly nude) images or videos or starting a sexual conversation with the child.

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)

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact the Police on 111.  

If someone you know has been the victim of grooming, you can contact Netsafe for help and advice by free texting ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, calling free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or emailing help@netsafe.org.nz.

Sending nudes and sextortion 

Sextortion is when someone threatens to expose a sexual image or video of an individual in order to make them pay or provide more sexual content. The individuals who carry out this crime can target a young person through many different ways including social media and online gaming. This is a crime type that affects children and young people across a variety of ages, genders and ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Netsafe have lots of more advice on their website about sextortion: 

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children recently launched “No Escape Room,” an interactive experience that shows parents and caregivers the reality of financial sextortion.

The interactive film follows the story of a 15-year-old boy’s exploitation online and allows parents to see how quickly and easily a child can fall victim to online exploitation.  

Talking to young children about staying safe

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)(external link) have developed Talk PANTS -  a way to help children keep safe from sexual abuse. 

A simple conversation can make a BIG difference, and that’s what Talk PANTS is all about. This approach supports parents to help their children understand their body belongs to them, and they should tell a safe adult they trust if anything makes them feel upset or worried.


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) ThinkUKnow program in partnership with the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) have developed a new children’s picture book called Jack Changes the Game to support parents, carers and teachers in discussing some issues around online safety. 

Written by notable children’s author Tess Rowley and illustrated by Shannon Horsfall, Jack Changes the Game(external link) takes a child’s perspective to online grooming, the challenges they face and why it’s important to talk to a trusted adult if they encounter any problems online. 

Jack Changes the Game

Sending nudes

Some young people engage in sexting – sending or receiving sexual content. This may be as a result of exploring sex or feeling pressure from others to send a nude.

Netsafe advises parents to an open conversation with your child about sending nudes and how easily the content can be shared with others. For more information visit: Netsafe -nudes(external link).

Report sextortion

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sextortion you can report it to the following organisations:

  • Submit a report to New Zealand Police via their 105(external link) reporting line
  • Submit a report to Netsafe or reach out for advice by free texting ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, free phoning 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or emailing help@netsafe.org.nz