Who or What is Being Groomed?
by Latayne C Scott, PhD
A formerly-innocent word, grooming, now has a sinister new meaning. It refers to the process a sexual predator uses.
According to a study, the process looks like this:
1. The target or victim is selected, often because they seem vulnerable.
2. The predator gains increasing access to the target, by seeking situations that increase contact with the target, volunteering to help, giving gifts.
3. The predator gains the trust and cooperation of the target with time and attention that can seem even sacrificial.
Grooming a Child
If the target is a child, the selection (step 1) is often because a child seems “needy,” isolated, or disconnected to normal relationships with friends and family.
The predator steps in and becomes involved in the child’s life (step 2) when there is low self-esteem, family discord, lack of supervision, or naivete – supplying child care or tutoring, offering transportation, providing things the family and/or child want or need.
At the final stage (step 3), the predator makes himself or herself practically indispensable and above suspicion. At this point, the predator is already building barriers between the child and the people who are supposed to be protecting the child, with intimacy, secrets and secret contact.
Grooming an Organization
But what if the target being groomed is not a person, but an organization? THE GROOMING PROCESS FOLLOWS THE SAME PATTERN!
Predators know that they are most likely to achieve their goals of molesting children in settings where trust is high.
They will (step 1) look to organizations that seem vulnerable – perhaps without extensive background checks of volunteers who work with children, for instance. Or who don’t closely supervise a child’s bathroom trips or field trips. Or who seem “needy” to fill volunteer quotas.
Step 2: The perpetrator will offer help where needed, especially in child programs but not always just there. They spend their time becoming well-liked and known for being hardworking and helpful. Children, parents, and administrators are at ease with him or her.
By the time the predator is a “member in good standing,” or even in leadership in the organization, he or she has begun desensitizing individual children; for instance, moving from pats on the back to tickling to “private” meetings” to actual sexual abuse.
The study and one other had one very scary finding: People lie, and it is often impossible to know if the most likeable and helpful people in a club or organization are just as they seem to be, or if they are predators, until an abuse comes to light.
Given the descriptions above, what organizations do you think are most apt to be groomed?
About the Author
Latayne C Scott, PhD, is the award-winning author of over two dozen books. She blogs with Dr. Beth Robinson whose blog, “Kids Call Me Doc,” first published this blog article.
She is the author of over 2 dozen published books and hundreds of magazine articles. Her latest books are A Conspiracy of Breath (TSU Press, 2017), The Parables of Jesus (TSU Press, 2017), and as a contributor to Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds (Kregel, 2017.)
You can read Latayne’s regularly scheduled column on the 4th Friday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.