• Anna-Marie Møller Mundbjerg
4. term, Master of Sexology (Continuing education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))
Sexual grooming is an overlooked concept in the sexual abuse of children – a relatively new concept that has only been used for approximately 20 years. While it is broadly accepted that the sexual grooming of children takes place, there is a lack of any general sense of what it is, exactly. Around half of the cases involving the sexual abuse of children take place on the background of a grooming process.

Sexual grooming is a process whereby an offender gains access to a child via trust and friendship and attempts to make the child complicit in the subsequent abuse. In the course of this process, the adult offender prepares the child for the violation that they plan on committing. Steps towards this end include getting the child to cooperate, to assume a sense of co-responsibility, and getting the child to help keep the abuse a secret. The offender also uses this process to justify his (the offender is typically male) actions and to shirk responsibility.

The grooming process can be divided into the following phases:
1. Gaining access to the child
2. Gaining the child’s compliance
3. Maintaining the child’s secrecy to avoid disclosure

Grooming can also be discussed in terms of institutional grooming, the grooming of significant others and the environment. It is difficult to identify sexual grooming because an offender’s sexually motivated behaviour is difficult to distinguish from non-sexually motivated behaviour, as these behaviours can essentially be the same despite the contrasting motivation. Grooming is generally behaviour that resembles normal adult–child interaction; the only thing that makes sexual grooming different is the intention to perpetrate sexual abuse. Grooming can take place online and in the family. In recent years there has been extensive focus on online grooming. Nevertheless, roughly half of all sexual abuse of children is ‘intra-familial’. Preventive implications mphasize how parents can talk with their children about their bodies, their limits and their sexuality in different phases of childhood and adolescence in order to support the child’s integrity and what they can do to avoid sexual abuse.
Publication date7 May 2017
Number of pages52
ID: 257146818