Online grooming occurs when an adult makes contact with someone under the age of 16 with the intention of sharing sexually explicit images, discussing sexual activity, and in many cases meeting in person for sexual purposes. This type of victimisation occurs across all online platforms, gaming, social media messaging apps and chat rooms etc.
It’s important to note the offence occurs in the communication phase, so no physical contact needs to have taken place for a crime to have been committed (see Carly’s Law 2017 ).
Predators who seek to groom children may pretend to be younger than they are, often using fake profiles to gain a victim’s trust. Offenders can access information about their targets through social media sites where some personal information is available, particularly if privacy settings are not enabled. Personal information is then used by the predator to build a relationship with the victim – discussing ‘shared interests’ or liking their social media posts.
Young people can be overly trusting believing those who are nice online will be the same in the real world. It’s important they understand not everyone online is who they say they are.