Thursday, September 8, 2016

Online grooming of children often 'alarmingly fast', researchers find

Online groomers rarely pose as children and can succeed in persuading a child to meet in less than half an hour, according to researchers probing the way in which sexual predators target victims online.

The UK-based research team behind the findings say they hope to overturn common misconceptions about how online groomers operate in a bid to help parents protect their children. They suggest the research could also aid the development of better software programmes to catch online predators.

“If we really want to prevent [grooming] and to help children and to keep them safe, we really need to go back to basics and really analyse what is actually going on in online grooming communication,” said Cristina Izura, a psychologist at the University of Swansea, who co-directs the the Online Grooming Communication (OGC) project.

Presented at the British Science Festival, the findings come from studies carried out by the OGC, a project that aims to investigate the language that groomers use to trap children into sexually abusive situations.

“It is how the groomers communicate and interact with their victims, with the children that they target, that we are interested in,” said Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus, also a director of the OGC project.  (more...)

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