(Sexual) Grooming is different from having combed hair or neat and trimmed nails. Grooming is a gradual process of gaining trust to sexually abuse minors, those under the age of 18 (click here for the Age of Consent and Sexual Abuse Against Minors Topics).

Grooming is when an adult who wants to sexually abuse a minor gains the confidence of the minor and or the adults around them in order to gain access to and have time alone with the target minor.

Learning and educating minors about grooming, which can include inappropriate sexual communications, sexual jokes, and improper touching and hugging, are steps to empower minors to see and understand the steps and actions of grooming. With this knowledge, minors should better recognize, avoid and report grooming, thereby reducing the chance they will be sexually abused by groomers.

The sourced articles below should provide you more information on sexual grooming.

  1. What Is Sexual Grooming?

    “Sexual grooming is the process by which a sexual predator cultivates a relationship with a potential victim. Through grooming, the abuser builds trust and an emotional connection to the targeted victim in order to manipulate and abuse them. In cases of child sexual abuse, an adult will show special favor to a child in order to abuse them later in the relationship. In some situations, an abuser may also groom the victim’s family or friends. In doing so, the abuser often gains more access to the child.”

    Ron Meneo,, accessed 4/21/2022

  2. What Is Grooming?

    “Grooming is a professional term used to describe the calculated and gradual process by which an offender sexually abuses a child. It is a horrifyingly planned and manipulative act that makes victims of sexual abuse feel complacent and adds an additional layer of protection for the offender.”

    Katia Gonzalez, Community Outreach Coordinator for Alliance For Children,, accessed 4/21/2022

  3. Grooming: Awareness Of Adult Behaviors

    “There are four commonly recognized preconditions for child sexual abuse to take place. The offender must:
    1. Have the desire to abuse a child sexually;
    2. Overcome the internal inhibitions that would ordinarily keep one from acting on sexual desires toward children;
    3. Have the opportunity to be alone with the child; and
    4. Overcome the child’s resistance.
    Grooming behaviors target numbers 3 and 4. The process can take as little as a few days to as much as a year (one recent study has placed the average at 1.5 years), but offenders have been shown to be patient in their efforts to gain the trust of everyone involved and avoid being caught.”

    Safe Kids Thrive,, accessed 4/21/2022; (Broken link removed 8/2023)

  4. Grooming And Red Flag Behaviors

    “Child grooming is a deliberate process by which offenders gradually initiate and maintain sexual relationships with victims in secrecy. Grooming allows offenders to slowly overcome natural boundaries long before sexual abuse occurs. On the surface, grooming a child can look like a close relationship between the offending adult, the targeted child and (potentially) the child’s caregivers. The grooming process is often misleading because the offender may be well-known or highly regarded in the community. As a result, it’s easy to trust them.”

    Darkness to Light,, accessed 4/21/2022

  5. 25 Things Parents Should Know About Sexual Abuse

    “11. Sex offenders ‘groom’ children. They may spend weeks or months establishing a trusting relationship with a child. Grooming may include gifts, special activities, outings, and special attention.
    12. Sex offenders also often groom parents and guardians of children to lower their defenses, which allows the offender to spend time with the child alone.
    13. The grooming process involves the sex offender’s breaking down a child’s natural inhibitions so that the child becomes increasingly accepting and comfortable with touching. …”

    me too. TOOLKIT,, accessed 4/21/2022

  6. 6 Perpetrator Grooming Behaviors Every Parent Needs to Know

    03 TOUCHING …
    With that said, if you ever see these behaviors and feel like something is wrong, you can use a strategy we call ‘confronting with kindness’ to help protect your child. Confronting with kindness includes only two steps:
    01 Pull the person aside and explain the boundaries you have established for your child and why you have them.
    02 Ask them to support you in those boundaries.”

    Saprea,, accessed 4/21/2022

  7. How Sexual Abusers Try to Groom Children

    “It is important to understand what sexual grooming means, as it is essential to the prevention and detection of sexual abuse. We recently found that 99 percent of all childhood sexual abuse involved at least some elements of sexual grooming. Given that child sexual abuse is a serious global problem impacting one in four girls and one in 13 boys, it is integral that we understand the methods and tactics that offenders use to perpetrate the abuse. …
    Stage 1. Selecting a Victim …
    Stage 2. Gaining Access and Isolation …
    Stage 3. Trust Development …
    Stage 4. Desensitization to Sexual Content and Physical Contact …
    Stage 5. Postabuse Maintenance Behaviors …”

    Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at John Jay College who studies sexual violence prevention,, 4/18/2022

  8. What Does ‘Grooming’ Mean In Sexual Abuse Cases?

    “The first published use of the term in a sexual abuse context was in 1985, when the Chicago Tribune described ‘friendly molesters’ who gained trust while ‘secretly grooming the child as a sexual partner.’ That use of the word has become more widespread in recent years with high-profile cases of Catholic priests who approached vulnerable families as helpers or mentors before sexually abusing children, and with the wave of #MeToo accusations of sexual assault, harassment and abuse in the workplace.”

    Anne Barnard,, 12/2/2021

  9. Child Grooming Signs, Stages & Behaviors

    “Yes, child grooming is a federal crime.
    The federal government defines grooming, which is technically called ‘enticement,’ as ‘a method used by offenders that involves building trust with a child and the adults around a child in an effort to gain access to and time alone with them. In extreme cases, offenders may use threats and physical force to sexually assault or abuse a child. More common, though, are subtle approaches designed to build relationships with families.’”

    GSB Staff, Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C.,, 7/14/2021

  10. Grooming: Know The Warning Signs

    “Pierre’s Story: ‘He was someone who was always on my side. When I would get in trouble with my parents, he would tell them that I should come over to his house for the night. My parents could sense something was off—it seemed odd that I was spending so much time alone with an adult. They even asked me about it, but I told them that everything was fine. I now realize that this was all an effect of grooming.’”

    RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network),, 7/10/2020