Coronation Street has tackled subjects throughout the years that are hard to acknowledge, murder, rape, domestic violence (male and female), stalking, teenage pregnancy etc., and now grooming. Grooming is when a manipulative person, lulls someone else into their control by playing on their emotions. Sarac have emotionally supported young people over the last year that have been caught up in Childhood Sexual Exploitation, of which grooming is one aspect.
We all succumb to flattery, attention and desire to be understood and valued. When someone decent feels and displays these things to us, it’s lovely. The sad truth is however deceitful manipulative groomers know this too and use it to their advantage. If their agenda is to draw someone in and use them for their own gain, we would be hard pushed to tell the difference as their actions and behaviours give the impression they care. For a parent to spot this happening to their daughter or son and to try to explain it is very difficult, what parent wants to shatter an illusion of what should be an innocent beginning to a relationship? A parent’s job is made even harder when their daughter or son have already been emotionally ‘hooked-in’.
TV Programmes are helping people to talk sooner about the increasing need for us all to be vigilant around the potential that groomers exist and target in particular, younger people and vulnerable people. Sadly, it is happening, here locally as much as anywhere else. Sarac works one to one with those that have fallen victim to it and, I am pleased to say we also work with those at risk of falling victim to it. We also run regular workshops in schools and colleges locally highlighting the signs and raise awareness. We can’t know all that’s happening, but with vigilance that is increasing amongst other professionals such as teachers, police officers, social workers, youth workers, medical staff etc., we are seeing successes and saving people from this due to increased referrals, joined up thinking and support.
The team at sarac are all for awareness raising of this kind and passionate about protecting people from the damages of it.
For parents to feel they can be proactive about this talking to your family about it is the best approach, here are some more things to consider:
- age gaps (i.e. if it were a 35 year old woman dating a 17 year old male as in Coronation Street, would that feel right?) if it doesn’t feel right to you, it isn’t.
- awareness of where they are going and who with, check things out when you can, be clear on times and how they should check in with you.
- are they being very secretive, including about they are doing online or on their phone?
- are they going to unusual places? Places they usually couldn’t get into or afford?
- do they suddenly own new clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or have access to drugs or alcohol?
Anyone, including parents can source us for help, our helpline is open to anyone affected.
There are many websites that offer information and advice too, such as NSPCC, Kayleighs Love Story also simply searching ‘grooming’ on Google will provide plenty of information.