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What does “grooming” mean?

Grooming is when someone builds a friendship or relationship with a young person and gains their trust so that they can exploit or abuse them. 

This can happen online or offline. 

The person doing the grooming could be an adult or another young person. It could be someone you talk to online, or offline, or both. It could be someone you met recently or someone you’ve known for a long time.

When people are being manipulated in this way, they often don’t realise they’ve been groomed. Instead, they may think they’re in a special, loving relationship. 

Grooming often leads to sexual abuse. This can include:

  • having sexual conversations online
  • getting people to share sexual photos or videos of themselves or other people 
  • carrying out sexual acts on a webcam, or meeting up in person to have sex

Anyone can groom someone else, whether they are old or young, and whatever gender they are.