Grooming comes from the English language and means as much as preparing/initiating. Grooming is the deliberate initiation of sexual contact by adults with children and young people. If this is done via the Internet, i.e. in social networks, chat rooms, on popular video platforms like TikTok and Snapchat or in online games, speaks one of cyberrooming. Through knowledge acquired from the respective profiles of children and adolescents as well as flattery and feigned interest in the person, the perpetrator tries to create closeness and common ground. The perpetrator gives himself/herself as a teenager or young adult off. Confidence in the new online contact is produced quickly, because everyone feels quickly flattered when someone big shows interest in one’s own person.
It starts with nice “harmless” conversations, with the exchange of interests, hobbies, musical tastes etc. As soon as confidence is gained, things change. The contents of the conversation or comments become offensive, obscene and revolve around the subject of sexuality. Often the child or teenager is pressured to send intimate photos or videos of themselves or to turn on the webcam. Some perpetrators try to meet with the children and adolescents in person, in the worst case, to sexually abuse them.
Against new contacts is generally nothing to object, but you should be suspicious, if your counterpart
- agrees with you in everything, gives many compliments and has understanding for everything.
- constantly talking about sexual issues or wants you to make statements about sexual topics.
- demands personal information (e.g. your address or mobile phone number) or pictures, videos requested from you.
- He wants to make you feel quilty because you don’t comply with his demands.
- wants your online acquaintance to be exclusive and therefore must be kept secret.
- wants to switch from one platform to WhatsApp or another messenger.
- wants to meet with you in person.
Are you affected by cyberrooming? Confide in someone quickly, talk to your parents and go to the police to file a complaint. Even if the contact only takes place online and there is no “actual” sexual activity – the perpetrator makes himself/herself punishable according to §176a StGB. Cybergrooming is prohibeted in Germany and is considered a special form of sexual abuse of children.