Informing and educating children prevents grooming

So, this is probably my first article on the subject as I’ve mostly been preoccupied with freedom of speech and expression on this forum. As a CSA survivor myself, I do take child safety very seriously, and since Prostasia is, first and foremost, a CSA prevention and child protection charity, I figured I’d share my thoughts on it. Who knows, it might go further than I think!

As of late, I’ve been seeing a great deal of concern over child grooming, especially when it comes to internet safety. Mainstream social media platforms, like TikTok and Instagram, have already begun implementing feature restrictions on users whose accounts indicate that they are below the age of majority. These restrictions seem to be chat limitations, wherein the pool of users they can direct message is limited in some way or is disabled completely. I’m personally not against these types of restrictions, as I feel they’ve become necessary steps these platforms have to take in order to retain the trust of concerned parents. Social media has become ingrained in the culture and lifestyles of the Y2K generation, or ‘Gen Z’, so much to a point where many kids cannot imagine life without their smart devices.

I’ve been going through IRC logs and email correspondences between hands-on CSA offenders, child pornographers, and undercover law enforcement officers which were made public from court documents and FOIA requests filed by researchers and journalists.
In these correspondences, they would discuss ways to groom children they know in real life so they let their guard down and engage in sexual activity. This also included minors they knew online, which usually consisted of older children or young teenagers.
From what it seems, grooming is a form of prolonged social conditioning that involves coercion and deception. Offenders would discuss ways to deceive their victims which would make them less likely to resist their attempts at coercion.

Without getting into too much detail, it was very disturbing reading through all of this. I’ve read some pretty messed up loli/shota hentai manga back in my day, but that’s all fiction. There was no harm, there was no abuse, there was no victim with that. The fact that these were real perpetrators discussing and planning out real crimes that they’d later attempt or had already committed made me very uneasy. I would occasionally find my fingernails digging into my palms out of anger reading about them.
This wasn’t like loli hentai at all. These were actual crimes.
But I digress…

I pressed on. Reading through all of this was giving me real insight into how these offenders think and act, how they plan out their crimes and what risk factors they look out for.
A handful of offenders would routinely express concern over whether their victims were catching on to the fact they were being groomed, and if they’d tell anybody about what had already been done. They knew that if they told their parents, their friends, or just about anybody, they’d be busted.
Among these discussions I found was a recurring theme of awareness, not just from their victims but also their parents and immediate family.

As I began to read more into the actual proceedings, judgements, etc. it became increasingly obvious what their weakness was.
It was knowledge.
Knowledge by potential victims to spot groomers and their tactics, knowledge about sex and sexual matters, and how to report these advances to site admins or figures of authority they could speak to. One of the most interesting things about our media culture is that violence and sex are everywhere.
A thing I noticed about these groomers is that they all seem to employ these tactics in a pattern, or set script, much like the kind of script employed by tech support scammers to dupe unsuspecting people out of their banking information.
Children are smart, but also naive, inexperienced, and stupid, and predators are more than capable of exploiting this at the very real expense of the children involved. If children are made aware of the risks in a way that resonates with them and has the backing of their peers, then it’s likely that groomers would have far fewer successes.
Awareness + education = prevention.

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You made some superb points. I remember reading an interview with a convicted abuser who was quoted in an interview as saying (words to the effect of): “Show me a child who is ignorant of sex, and I’ll show you my next victim.”

Now fear that children are being ‘groomed’ is at the heart of the latest proposals for mandatory scanning of all online correspondence.