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  • Writer's pictureHelen Haydock

Grooming. Why do perpetrators do it and why should people who work with children know about it?

In the last few days I've seen a few articles across both LinkedIn and mainstream news discussing the role grooming has played in sexual offending against children. Grooming is one of those behaviours we have all heard about and have ideas about what it looks like but it can be really helpful to consider why perpetrators engage in this behaviour?


Grooming is defined in Victorian Legislation as "where an adult communicates, by words or conduct, with a child under the age of 16 years or with a person who has care, supervision or authority for the child with the intention of facilitating the child’s involvement in sexual conduct, either with the groomer or another adult." Other states have similar legislation.


So why do perpetrators engage in this behaviour? To put it simply they don't want to get caught so they will do things to reduce the likelihood that a child will speak up or the likelihood a child will be believed if they do try speak up.

They don't want to get caught so they will do things to reduce the likelihood that a child will speak up or the likelihood a child will be believed if they do try speak up.

When its put like that it can help us to understand the types of behaviours they might engage in, including:

  • Building trust with the child and the adults around a child

  • Normalising secrecy

  • Creating a "special" relationship with a child

  • Separating/isolating a child from their peers or other adults

  • Threatening a child that they will be in trouble or bad things will happen if they speak up

Understanding why perpetrators engage in grooming and building skills in recognising grooming is important because it helps us to stop it before any contact offending has occurred. It also helps us to understand why children often don't disclose.


Organisations that work with children need to have policies and procedures in place to be able to intervene if there are concerns a child is being groomed and to support children to speak up if they have a concern or are worried.


This includes:

  • A code of conduct that clearly outlines what is and is not appropriate behaviour with children

  • Complaints handling policies and procedures that prioritise the safety of children

  • Clear, simple and accessible ways for children to raise concerns

  • Training so that staff can recognise when a child is at risk and respond appropriately to child safety concerns

Growing Futures can help with training staff around chid safe practices. Contact us today to discuss how our training can help your organisation strengthen its child safe approach.

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