What does the term “grooming” mean?
The term ‘grooming’ is one that has been coined recently to reflect the problem of those who use online facilities in order to meet children for the purpose of committing a sex offence, however any communication, in person, face to face or otherwise with a child for the purpose of committing a sex offence is still legally and commonly considered to be grooming.
It is necessary to outline this specific problem in relation to advancing technology, however, as it is understood that the innovation of the world wide web has dramatically changed the way potential paedophiles make contact with children: With user anonymity providing potential sex offenders with a covert platform from where to search and groom their victims, and personal information of potential victims often being easily accessible, online service providers have been seen to take drastic actions to prevent such activity.
Sexual Offences Act 2003
Under the Sexual offences act 2003, children are protected from on and offline ‘grooming’ (communication with a child with an intention to meet and commit a sex offence). This means that communication with a child under the age of 16 with the intention to meet for a sexual purpose is illegal. Furthermore, meeting a child following the grooming process is also outlined as a criminal offence.
In the interests of common decency, as well as covering other mediums used to contact children, the act also governs that exposing children to indecent text messages is illegal.
For more information on:
- Sentencing those who groom children for sex
- The Sex Offender Register