On “Grooming” and Child Sexual Abuse

On “Grooming” and Child Sexual Abuse

In many cases, child sexual abuse is not a sporadic event. Predators may engage in “grooming,” a process which entails identifying a potential victim, gaining their and their family’s trust, and desensitizing them to the abusive behavior. Some grooming behavior is difficult to identify because it seems benign and even positive to outsiders who are unaware of the predator’s motives. 

The more pious, altruistic, or philanthropic a person seems, the harder it is for people to believe the perpetrator’s guilt. Perpetrators are often individuals known to the child, his or family, and possibly the community. In fact, some perpetrators are drawn to professions which provide them with easy access to children such as careers in sports coaching, the clergy, and teaching. Religious communities are no exception. A perpetrator may use his religious authority and/or position in the community to exercise power and control over his victims and to gain access to them. For instance, a religious teacher may use individual lessons with children as an opportunity to be alone with a child and engage in abusive behavior.

Research suggest that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. This phenomenon has lifelong repercussions on victims which are further exacerbated when they do not receive the support they need. It is imperative that we gain awareness surrounding this issue in order to appropriately protect our children and communities. 

Please watch our video with Dr. Juhayna Ajami on grooming in child sexual abuse. 

(Video length: 5 minutes, 34 seconds)

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