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Grooming: A Danger For Teens On The Internet

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A few weeks ago the movie was televised "You can trust me" ("Trust" in the English version).

This interesting film accurately describes a case of GroomingThis relatively new phenomenon, Grooming, refers to the deception and sexual harassment suffered by minors online by adults. The film reflects how what a family has built for years is destroyed by a stranger in an instant. The online stranger gains the trust of a 14-year-old girl, Annie, by posing as a 16-year-old and taking advantage of the girl's age-specific insecurities.

Grooming: A New Danger For Teens (Spoiler Warning)

Warning, if someone wants to see the film, do not continue reading because to deal with the subject of Grooming I will use various elements of the film's plot to facilitate understanding of the phenomenon. The sexual abuse of minors It is an issue that worries the whole of society, a problem that, although quite frequent, tends to be clothed with clichés and stereotypes that contribute to making it more invisible. When we speak of sexual abuse of minors, the collective imagination mistakenly reminds us that abuse involves the use of force and physical violence. And this is not always the case.

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The film reminds us, with great success, that when we refer to sexual abuse against minors, it does not necessarily have to be a previous aggression, since the adult can use mechanisms of emotional manipulation, deception and blackmail. These mechanisms cover the intentionality of the adult, clearly sexual and illegitimate. With this type of maneuver, the aggressor manages to gain the trust and affection of the minor: "He cares about me", "He loves Me". This can cause the relationship to go to the physical plane, producing sexual assault.

Adults who manipulate and gain the trust of children

The unknown adult, called "Charlie" in the movie, has spun a web of manipulations for over two months to gain the trust of the youngest, with the aim of preparing the ground and perpetrating the abuse. "He has been preparing Her for this moment." With these words the FBI agent responds to Annie's father (Clive Owen) when he asks the angry agent "Did my daughter resist? "Asked for help?". A father who represents public opinion, since he is totally convinced that abuse must involve physical violence, and does not understand how his intelligent 14-year-old daughter has put herself in this situation, deceived and manipulated by Charlie

The same is observed in the three families that lend themselves to a youtuber experiment Coby persin, to demonstrate the risk that minors suffer to be victims of this type of sexual criminals. The fathers and mothers of the babies fully trust that their daughters (12-14 years old) will not agree to open the door during the night or to get into the vehicle of an unknown "adolescent".

How can we as parents prevent our child from being a victim of grooming?

It is clear that the key is to prevent deception, explaining the risks that exist in the network and informing about the security measures available, insisting that they should not dating strangers no matter how much our young people think they are not strangers or strangers because they have chatted for a few days. One of the best indications is to be cautious, distrust the good words of strangers and apply common sense.

Common sense and critical thinking

But we will only get adolescents and pre-adolescents to become aware of these types of cases by encouraging them to develop critical thinking, just as it happened to us when we stop believing one hundred percent what we see on television. We must ensure that the age, personality and intentions of unknown people who contact them through the internet are questioned. We must warn our children that it is not right or acceptable for a stranger to ask them to meet secretly, and that such a date can have terrible consequences.

We must also inform them that, if they finally decide to meet that person, they should always be accompanied by another person who can help them in case something strange happens. And a long list of recommendations that police and educational institutions have already indicated and that we should go remembering to make our children aware of the potential dangers they may run if they are too credulous.

What makes minors able to feel attached to their potential abuser?

But let's keep analyzing the movie. What makes that when Annie discovers that Charlie has lied at her age, she forgives him and continues to be exposed to a risky situation? The answer is a combination of three factors: confidence, insecurity and age difference. Therefore, we are talking about emotional and cognitive skills that have an advantage over the adult over the minor.

There is an asymmetry between the two and an abuse of power occurs. The trust Charlie has earned by giving him all the attention via chat and phone, and the unsafety of Annie, very typical of the stage of puberty, are the elements that facilitate contact and "friendship" between them. Annie wants to fit in, like her, and does her best in high school. And Charlie ends up overshadowing all her attention by taking an interest in everything that affects the girl, giving a false image of himself that she fantasizes about and concealing that her interest in him is solely sexual.

A key moment of the film is when the two meet and she cries when she finds out that he had cheated on her by telling her his age. At that moment, Charlie accuses her and holds her responsible for the lie, berating her that she hadn't told him her real age because she knew she would react immaturely. Therefore, the adult uses a perverse psychological manipulation that prevents Annie from recognizing her assertive rights, such as the right to get angry and leave, to say no, and so on. And as if that were not enough, he again transfers the guilt to her, pretending that they have "something special" and adopting paternalistic attitudes to get her to agree to her claims.

Another key: improve trust between parents and children

The social group of equals (classmates and friends, for example) plays an important role in the development of the identity and self-esteem of children, and it is difficult to influence this. But precisely because of this decisive influence we must be attentive and receptive and try to reinforce and positively influence our children, promoting communication with them.

Some generic recommendations are as follows:

  • Strengthen your assertiveness letting him decide on certain aspects of his daily life.
  • Strengthens social relationships among their peers. To go to friends' parties, to come home to sleep, etc.
  • Talk about sexuality with them. We must establish a serious and cordial communication with the children about this issue, not only in relation to protection and contraceptives, which is the most basic, but also assertive rights (to decide, to change their mind, not to allow someone to do something to them that they do not want, etc.).
  • If your child wants to share with you something about something that has happened to him with her friends, or at the institute, stop what you are doing and take an interest in him (or her).
  • Control mobile phone use, especially in family contexts. The film clearly shows how Annie spends her day in front of the computer and the telephone: this behavior should not be allowed as parents. Be interested in what you see that makes him smile or annoys him, even if it is something he does not want to share, be interested.
  • If you see your son or daughter worried about her image, she tries not to trivialize, positively reinforces her physical appearance and be interested in her tastes.

Practical guides to improve our parenting skills

There are many guides in Psychology and Mind on tips for fathers and mothers. Consult them, and do not forget that although it may seem like a remote risk, we all have a computer with an internet connection. I share with you just below one that seems essential to me:

"Rebel Teens: 6 Tips for Parents in Trouble"
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