Stop TIME Online

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018 Topics: Online safety Child sexual abuse and CSE

An anti-online grooming activity pack

NSPCC Cymru/Wales and Swansea University have launched an anti-online grooming activity pack. Since 2014, researchers at Swansea University have been exploring how groomers communicate with children and young people online.

The project aims to make key aspects of this research accessible to professionals working with children and young people. The activity pack explains the research findings in a clear, engaging way and helps keep children and young people safe online.

Authors: NSPCC Cymru/Wales and Swansea University
Published: 2017


The activity pack

We’ve worked with young people and professionals across social services, NSPCC social workers, Childline supervisors, police, youth services and probation to develop an activity pack.

Our Stop TIME Online activity pack gives professionals and young people a better understanding of the strategies online groomers use to build trusting relationships with young people. The materials can be used during 1-to-1 or small group work sessions with children and young people aged 8 to 18 who are at risk of online grooming.

Stop TIME Online materials help practitioners and young people remember how online groomers use language to get young people to do what they want:

  • Trust: groomers develop ‘dodgy trust’ with you.

  • Isolate: groomers make you feel separate (both physically and mentally) from people in your life.

  • Measure: groomers say things to test how strong their control over you is.

  • Enjoy: groomers get pleasure from talking about sexual and romantic things and asking to swap nude selfies/photos.

The activity pack's Take a SECOND: Take Control activities focus on the Trust element of the model and are used to explain the strategies groomers use to build trust with young people.

This activity pack is the first in a series of multi-media materials to support professionals.


The research


The activity pack is underpinned by research from a multidisciplinary anti-online grooming project, investigating the processes involved in grooming children online (Lorenzo-Dus, Izura and Perez-Tattam, 2016; Lorenzo-Dus and Izura, 2017).

The research analysed language used by online groomers who have been convicted as a result of entrapment operations in the United States. These entrapment operations resulted from a collaboration between the non-profit foundation Perverted Justice and law enforcement in the United States.

The researchers developed a new 3 stage model to describe the communicative processes involved in online grooming:

1. Online access: groomers make initial online contact.

2. Entrapment: a complex phase involving a series of overlapping processes and strategies. The aim is to lure children and young people into different types of sexual behaviour, such as soliciting and sharing indecent images of children and groomers.

The 4 processes are:

  • deceptive trust development: groomers give compliments, engage in small talk and exchange personal information with the child about hobbies and relationships. The aim is to build a positive and trusting relationship

  • isolation: groomers establish and develop secrecy in the relationship with the child by creating physical and emotional separation from other people

  • compliance testing: through withdrawal, role reversal and reverse psychology online, groomers gauge the extent to which a child may agree to engage in sexual activities

  • sexual gratification: groomers use sexually explicit or implicit language and reframing strategies (for example, telling the child that sexual activity with them would be beneficial) to desensitise the child and prepare them to agree to participate in both online and offline sexual activity.

3. Offline access: groomers use verbal lead-ins to request meeting the child offline for sexual purposes.


References

Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Izura, C., 2017. “Cause ur special”: understanding trust and complimenting behaviour in online grooming discourse. Journal of Pragmatics 112: 68-82.

Lorenzo-Dus, N., Izura, C. and Perez-Tattam, R., 2016. Understanding grooming discourse in computer-mediated environments. Discourse, Context and Media, 12: 440-450.

Next steps


From October 2017, the activity pack will be piloted across 5 NSPCC sites in Wales and North West England. Following the pilot, we hope to roll it out across the NSPCC and possibly further afield.

If you would like more information about our activity pack, email publicaffairs.cymru@nspcc.org.uk.