Child grooming, or simply grooming, is an act of befriending a child and establishing an emotional connection manipulatively, with intentions of sexual assault. Grooming is the predeccesor to sexual assault, wherein an abuser establishes trust with the child so as to limit the child’s inhibitions. 

Many abusers groom young children in order to lure them into illegal businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution or child pornography. 

Also Read| YouTuber James Charles admits sending sexually explicit texts to minor boys

Grooming can take place either online or offline. An abuser can be someone known to the victim or victim’s family, like a teacher, coach, neibhour or a relative, or can be a stranger as well. In the age of social media, grooming has taken a new form in the online space. Abusers can create fake ids and pose as children to befriend other children. Abusers can be well known celebrities as well who use their influence to subdue the victim. 

Many celebrities have been called out for grooming in recent years. James Charles, a popular content creator, was caught up in grooming allegations in March of 2021. Popular Minecraft YouTuber Dream has also been accused of grooming by a twitter user. 

Also Read| Minecraft YouTuber Dream faces sexual harassment allegations: Reports

Shane Dawson, YouTube’s veteran was cancelled due to allegations of grooming, pedophilia and racism, after which he took a break from YouTube

Many actors from Tinsel town have been accused of the same. Elvis Presley, Hollywood’s most well known star, allegedly groomed his wife Priscilla Presley.

The situation is not very positive in India itself. According to Interpol, an estimate of 24 lakh online cases of grooming have happened from 2017-2020. Eighty per cent of these children were girls under the age of 14.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in its crackdown against those involved in child pornography and its trade came across over 50 messaging and social media groups with more than 5,000 offenders sharing videos of child sexual abuse with nationals of over 100 countries.

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has spoken about the seriousness of crimes like child abuse and trafficking. “This is one of the major hidden problems and our children are becoming a victim of it.” Satyarthi said.