Family, school, society… we all have to make a commitment to keep minors from falling into the trap of a new evil, grooming that changes a child's life forever. Or finishes it...
Surely the term grooming will be known to you, but perhaps not known is exactly what this consists of, how it works, and how it is possible that a minor could undress in front of a computer screen or tablet making the most disastrous decision of his or her life.
To understand this phenomenon better, take this alarming data from recent research done by ESET, an information security company. Among a sample of 400 children, 36% of youth between the ages of 14 and 29 in Latin America have encountered at least one molester while navigating the internet.
The grooming of minors on the internet is a phenomenon that we could equate to the term "dupe" or "lure" and that is used to describe the online practice of certain adults--I bluntly call them criminals--to earn the trust of minors, feigning empathy, understanding, and affection with the goal to obtain some form of sexual satisfaction (for example to obtain nude images of the minor). Therefore it is strongly related with pedophilia and child pornography on the internet. In reality, grooming is often times the gateway to actual sexual exploitation of the children.
But how does this work? Here are some practical examples. Imagine that your child navigates the internet on dedicated children's sites. In the apartment above, on the other side, in the adjacent plaza two blocks away, or even in another city, a cyber delinquent explores the IP number attached to the internet connection and easily deduces whether the PC in that moment is one of a minor. Immediately the predator moves on a luring tactics in the following four steps:.
1. Docking: The allurer begins by asking small and apparently innocent questions to the minor to get to know him better. The predator seeks to obtain the minor's trust.
2. Building loyalty: The pedophile tries every way for the child to respond to affection as not to lose contact with him. For example giving him compliments or offering him gifts.
3. Seduction: After being flattered, the child now feels indebted and easily agrees to the criminal's requests. This is the most dangerous and critical moment. The pedophile asks the minor to undress and do obscene acts, the minor innocently agrees thinking that it is only a game while the cyber predator captures images and video.
4. Blackmail: At this point having all the information that he asked for, the allurer begins to blackmail and extort the minor, asking for more obscene acts or else he will divulge the child's images on the internet.
Now, dear parents, close your eyes a second and think of your nude child on the internet. Do you remember the case of Amanda Todd, who took her own life due to a terrible and embarrassing situation of this nature? What can we do now to help her? There are some warnings and principles we can well instill in the minds of our children:
Never share your image or information with anyone.
Never surrender to the blackmail threats of anyone. Delay only strengthens the position of the offender.
Be assured that your own privacy and intimacy are not negotiable. Respect for our bodies begins with ourselves.
Always be on the lookout for preventative actions. Be sure your children make secure, responsible, and constructive use of the internet.
Juan Camilo Díaz B.
Profesor Instituto de la Familia - Universidad de La Sabana - Colombia