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What are the different grooming models?

schedule 6th January 2016 by Alex Bateman in Safeguarding

types of grooming

Child sexual exploitation can happen in a number of different ways across varying scenarios. The term ?grooming? evokes images of a young person talking to an adult online, blissfully unaware of the older party?s true intention. This is a misleading representation, as young people can be just as easily targeted in person through a number of different models.

The Relationship Model

This type of grooming explains how young people can be tricked by perpetrators into believing that they have entered a ?loving? relationship when in reality the offender is aiming to coerce them into having sex with their friends and associates.

Whilst the culprit is commonly older, there have been reports where this behaviour occurs between peers of young people. This can sometimes be linked with gang activity.
This model is frequently referred to as the 'Boyfriend Model'. The title is a bit ambiguous however as boys and young men can also be sexually exploited in this way.

Inappropriate Relationship Model

This model usually involves one offender having an inappropriate amount of power or control over a young person. This can be particularly apparent when there is a large age gap between the perpetrator and victim, as well as a disparity in wealth or status. Similarly to the Relationship Model, the young person may believe that they are in a loving relationship.

Organised/ Network & Trafficking Model

This kind of exploitation can include the sexual trafficking of young people, either across different countries or simply within one city. Young people can become victims in the 'buying and selling' of sexual services as perpetrators look to network with their fellow criminals.

Even the young people involved in the organisation of the trafficking process can themselves be forced to recruit new targets into the network. Due to the fact that this model often involves numerous victims and offenders, it is usually widely reported in the media.

'Party Lifestyle' Model

Another common and dangerous grooming model is the 'party lifestyle' model, which typically looks to target groups of young people all together. Typically young people are groomed by other young people and are invited to parties in their local area.

Inviting young people in groups gives the impression that there is strength in numbers and no danger present. This however is an intentional ploy as it ensures that all of the young people within the group are involved in the process and view the situation as 'normal'.

What follows is an initial offering of treats, such as drugs and alcohol, but then a subsequent removal of these treats until a repayment method can be agreed. The exploited young people usually agree to the repayment scheme regardless of what it is as they do not want to be left out of the parties or are too scared to say no.

In cases of sexual exploitation it is crucial that the victim is not blamed. Perpetrators have power and influence over those that they abuse. This power can come from age, status, intellect or physical strength. They then use this power to control and exploit their chosen victim.

Sources: and

Alex Bateman - Virtual College

Author: Alex Bateman

Alex is interested in the strategic application of learning and development. In particular how organisations can promote engagement with ongoing learning campaigns. He spends his spare time renovating his Victorian house. Ask him about his floors, I dare you.

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