In some instances, grooming may also include threats or bribes, leaving the young person being groomed too afraid to ask for help.
With the proliferation of internet use amongst young people growing at an alarming rate, it is difficult to keep abreast of the changes in the virtual world in which young people live their lives. Friendships once forged in the playground face to face have now transferred to the virtual playground of the internet and this makes it difficult to assess the dangers due to the anonymity of the groomer. With the average user of Facebook having 130 ‘friends’, it is unlikely that they have met every single one of them in the real world – though young people claim that they have met them all. Young people do not have the capacity to recognise the process of grooming and being drawn into a situation that they simply cannot control. By the time a young person realises that something is wrong, they are often at the stage where they do not know who to trust or to turn to. However, it is the threat of exposure that leads young people to disclose what has happened to them, by which time, sadly, the damage has been done.
Groomers use flattering offers of a ‘loving relationship’ in return for explicit messages or exchanging photographs via Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, or text messages to name but a few. Videos are also sent following instructions on what they should do when filming themselves. Compliments are made to young people in order to gain their adoration and trust and in some cases, money is offered in exchange for indecent images to be sent. If a victim of grooming feels uncomfortable sending indecent images or carrying out indecent acts online, for instance via Skype, threats are made to inform their parents, carers and school. Due to the shame that is felt by the young person because of the grooming, they often do what has been asked of them to prevent those sharing details about them and live in fear of the perceived shame and isolation. This is exactly how the groomer wants the young person to feel as it is the element of control that allows them to get the young person to do what they want.