Grooming – what is it? How to recognize it and counteract it?

Grooming – what is it?  How to recognize it and counteract it?

Recently, the Internet world was shaken by the case of Gargamel, a famous YouTuber who was accused by his ex-girlfriend of using violence and grooming. See what this phenomenon is.

Grooming is one of the manipulation techniques, or more precisely, grooming children online. These activities aim to establish a sexual relationship with a minor. The perpetrator feigns friendship, comforts and supports his potential victim in order to achieve his goal.

It should be emphasized that grooming is a crime regulated in Article 200a of the Penal Code. This provision indicates that all actions aimed at sexual intercourse with a minor under 15 years of age, including inciting sexual acts via an IT system or telecommunications network, are punishable by imprisonment for a period of 3 years. Additionally, Art. 200a § 2 specifies that the mere submission of a sexual proposal to a minor via the Internet and actions aimed at its implementation are subject to penalization – a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for a period of 2 years.

What does grooming look like in practice?

Grooming is a long-term process. It is divided into several stages. In the first phase, the perpetrator observes his victim and collects all necessary information about him (tastes, interests, difficulties, needs, etc.). The collected data allows the pedophile to assess his chances with the victim and to more easily establish a relationship with the child and gain his trust. The next stages of grooming are: deepening the relationship with the victim, analyzing the situation and proposing specific actions.

The actions taken by the perpetrator aim to deepen and tighten the bond with the child. The seducer confides his secrets to the child and encourages him to do the same. Over time, he begins to ask more and more bold questions about the details of his intimate life and relationship with his own body. To assess the risk of exposure, the perpetrator asks about the location of the computer and whether parents or guardians know about the new acquaintance. There are also requests for the child not to archive conversations. In the final stage of grooming, the pedophile encourages him to undertake various sexual activities, for example masturbation or even to meet in reality.

To maintain the relationship, the perpetrator begins to present the child’s parents or guardians in a bad light, as the young person’s enemies. However, he presents himself as a friend. Very often he begins to blackmail the victim into keeping the relationship a secret.

How to protect your child against grooming and online violence?

To protect your child from grooming, first of all, you should talk to him or her about the threats lurking online and pay close attention to the relationships he or she establishes on the Internet. It is not advisable to ban the use of the Internet, because such restriction of access usually results in even greater desire to surf. The child begins to do it in secret, which increases susceptibility to influence.

In this case, it is also very important to build your child’s self-esteem and security. The victims of grooming are most often young people with low self-esteem, rejected by their peer group, who do not have support from parents, friends and guardians. Wanting attention, they become susceptible to manipulation. Parents and guardians should build a bond with their child. Therefore, you should be interested in what your child does and likes and what problems he or she struggles with.

Gargamel accused of violence and grooming

Gargamel is the pseudonym of Jakub Chuptyś – a popular YouTuber and podcaster. His former partner Laura accused him of violence and grooming. The couple started dating when she was 16 and he was 25. In her story published on social media, the girl accuses the man:

“In 2020, I fell victim to grooming and aggressive behavior by Gargamel, known to all of you. I was 16 when we started dating. (…) From the very beginning of this relationship, Kuba was violent towards me. He actually controlled my entire life. He forbade me from seeing anyone.”

The woman admits that the violence she experienced was not limited to control. It often took physical form as well. After one such violent behavior, the woman decided to end her relationship. Jakub Chuptyś commented online on the accusations against him. He didn’t deny anything, admitted his guilt and apologized.

“What I did in 2020 is inexcusable and there is no excuse for my actions. I am very ashamed of this, but I am ready to accept all the consequences of these actions,” he writes on social media.

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