06 November 2014
When you read the papers or look online, it can be easy to think that it’s only teenage girls that are groomed by adults. And though cases of boys being targeted are less reported, they do happen and it’s important to be aware of the warning signs to ensure you or your friends don’t become victims.
Though grooming comes in all different forms, it generally begins with an older man making friends with a younger boy and slowly increasing the amount of trust and access in the relationship, it can also be an older female and the perpetrator may not be as old as you think. On the other hand it’s also important to remember that not everyone online is who they say they are nor are they the age that they claim to be.
This eventually leads to an inappropriate relationship where the younger man may feel uncomfortable about the situation, but unable to break away. Though it can be a case of older gay men grooming younger gay men, this is certainly not always true and being groomed does not necessarily mean that you are gay.
As adults who groom teenagers and children are often very clever and have previous experience, many boys don’t realise that they are being groomed until it’s too late.
Often, adults look for boys and young men online, making friends with them through Facebook, chat rooms, instant messaging and especially via online gaming and the likes of X-Box Live. If someone you don’t know in real life has recently added you to their network, be careful what information you share with them and what access you give them to your photos and your information.
Groomers will often start by asking for information which will identify you, before asking for specifics like your location, age, interests and what school you go to. They may also ask you to keep your relationship secret from others.
This can move on to them asking for photos of you or even asking to meet up. They may also send you presents or tell you secrets that make you feel like your relationship is special and they will often become angry if you try to leave the friendship.
Though boys are much less likely to talk about grooming or report their experiences to the police, it is believed that thousands of boys and young men are targeted every year. So if you or any of your friends have been a victim of grooming, you’re not alone and there are lots of people who have had the same experiences.
Luckily, there are loads of resources, organisations and groups out there ready to help. So if you think that you or any of your friends have been targeted, or you just want to talk to someone about grooming, you can get in touch with us via our live chat, give us a call on 0808 800 1037 or check out online resources like the Blast Project for more information.