Grooming 101: image of a male lion

Grooming 101: How to recognize a sexual predator

Do you know what grooming is?

In the skeevy, underbelly, predatory sense of the word?

During body safety assemblies when I talk to school kids about grooming, I say,

“I’m not talking about brushing your Golden Retriever’s fur.”

To me,

Grooming is the process by which a sexual predator gains the trust of a potential victim and sometimes their family.

Here’s another definition:

Grooming of a minor can look like:

  • Compliments: “You should be a model! I can make that happen.”
  • Gifts: “Here’s a phone. So we can talk all the time.”
  • Emotional support: “No one understands you like I do.”
  • Attention: “Man, if you were my kid, I’d hang out with you all the time!” This approach is especially effective when a child isn’t getting enough positive attention at home.
  • Excitement: “Let’s go to the city for the weekend!”

Grooming of a parent or guardian can look like a super helpful individual. 

  • “I’ll watch your kids so you can enjoy a girls’ night out.”
  • “Me and Joey’ll go to the store while you take Lauren for her doctor’s appointment.”
  • “Your child is super talented. I could give them one-on-one coaching and instruction, work on getting them to the next level.”
  • “Let me buy your family lunch. I’m happy to help.”

Want to see more ways a child predator tries to gain your trust?

So he/she can get to your child?

Check out this two-minute TikTok of a (hopefully reformed) child molester. 

TRIGGER WARNING: The content of this video may make some people very uncomfortable (ie. survivors of child sexual abuse).

Grooming 101

Predators aren’t just helpful to potential victims and their families.

Predators also assist one another, big time.

Experts in the child protection industry tell of chatrooms on the “Dark Web” where pedophiles trade tips and tricks to help one another problem solve. Often for specific “challenges” like:

  • “There’s a new family in my neighborhood. Cute kids, but the dad is super protective.”
  • “The kid I want is never alone. There are always tons of people at his/her house. What can I do?” 

Documents exist sharing dozens of pedophile how-to tips:

Grooming 101

This image from the Child Rescue Coalition Instagram account. 

All to say, there are sexual predators out there providing pages of advice on how to gain intimate access to little kids.

These devious individuals—male and female—are determined to get at your child:

  • So they can obtain photos and videos to give away, trade, or sell to like-minded individuals.
  • To have sex with them.
  • In order to sexually traffic them.

By now you may be wondering:

How can parents, grandparents, educators, etc. protect kids? 

Since April is National Child Abuse Prevention month, I’m going to publish posts every Friday to help you keep the kids you love safe.

Thankfully there are some protective components already in place, like:

Erin’s Law:

In the states where Erin’s Law has been passed, all public schools are required to provide a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program at least once a school year. The law has been passed in 37 states, including West Virginia.

If your state passed Erin’s Law, but your child has not yet seen a body safety presentation this academic year, call your school and ask them to provide one.

Hundreds of child advocacy centers nationwide.

Across the US there are approximately 881 child advocacy centers, also known as CACs. The primary goal of the CAC in my area—the Monongalia County Children’s Advocacy Center—is “… to improve the lives of children in our community. Our vision is for every child in our community to be happy, healthy, and safe from abuse and violence.” The center works to both care for victims of abuse and prevent future abuse from happening.

NOTE: On April 23, 2022 at 2:00 pm, Jessie Haring, the illustrator of The Brave Knight, and I will be featured at a community event at the Mon County CAC. Guests will enjoy a live reading of the story and related activities. More info on The Brave Knight book below.

Darkness to Light

The mission of Darkness to Light is to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

I recently wrote this blog post about what I learned during an excellent D2L online training.

The Brave Knight, a recently released children’s book

Back before the pandemic was a twinkle in the world’s eye, Robert Peters—founder of Shield Task Force, a nonprofit working to end child abuse—asked me to write a children’s book to show kids what grooming looks like, sounds like, and feels like. The Brave Knight, the book that resulted from that conversation, is now available on Amazon where, to date, it has garnered dozens of 5-star reviews.

More than once I’ve said,

“I know I’ll write more books, but I don’t know that I’ll write a more important one.”

Though the content of this post is pretty heavy, I hope you feel encouraged by the resources I provided. For the sake of kids everywhere, please consider sharing this blog post with other parents, grandparents, educators, etc..

Check back next week for more tips on how to keep the kids you love safe from harm.




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Here's how to recognize a sexual predator and prevent grooming!How to Notice a Sexual Predator, How to Spot GroomingHow to Notice a Sexual Predator, How to Spot Grooming  How to Recognize a Sexual Predator |


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