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Examples of Behaviour


Grooming occurs when an adult engages in behaviour and actions with the intention of setting up a child for sexual abuse at a later time. Sometimes grooming appears as normal, caring, loving behaviour towards the child. An increasingly common form of grooming is online grooming. It occurs when an adult uses electronic communication (including social media) in a predatory fashion to try to lower a child’s inhibitions or heighten their curiosity regarding sex, to eventually meet them in person for sexual activity. This can include online chats, sexting, and other interactions. Online grooming can also precede online child exploitation, a form of child exploitation where adults use the internet or mobile to communicate sexual imagery with or of a child (for instance, via a webcam). The following are some examples of grooming behaviour. 


  • Giving gifts or special attention to a child, their parent, or carer (this can make a child feel special or indebted to an adult)

  • Controlling a child through threats, force, or use of authority (this can make a child fearful to report unwanted behaviour)

  • Making close physical contacts sexual, such as inappropriate tickling or wrestling

  • Openly or pretending to accidentally expose the victim to nudity, sexual material or acts (this in itself is classified as child sexual abuse but can also be a precursor to physical sexual assault).


  • Developing an unusually close connection with an older person

  • Displaying mood changes (such as hyperactive, secretive, hostile, aggressive, impatient, resentful, anxious, withdrawn, or depressed)

  • Using street or different language, copying the way the new ‘friend’ may speak, talking about the new ‘friend’ who does not belong to his or her normal social circle

  • Possessing jewellery, clothing or expensive items given by the ‘friend’

  • Possessing large amounts of money which he or she cannot account for

  • Using a new mobile phone (given by the ‘friend’) excessively to make calls, videos, or send text messages

  • being excessively secretive about their use of communications technologies, including social media

  • Frequently staying out overnight, especially if the relationship is with an older person

  • Being dishonest about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with

  • Using drugs (physical evidence can include spoons, silver foil, ‘tabs’, or ‘rocks’)

  • Assuming a new name and owning a false ID, stolen passport, or driver’s license provided by the ‘friend’ to avoid detection

  • Being picked up in a car by the ‘friend’ from home, school, or ‘down the street’.