'Grooming' and the Sexual Abuse of Children: Implications for Sex Offender Assessment, Treatment and Management

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'Grooming' has been termed 'a ubiquitous feature of the sexual abuse of children' (Thornton, 2003: 144). Despite the prominence of the term in contemporary discourses on sexual offending against children, it is a term that is insufficiently understood in the psychological, sociological, criminological or legal literature. Most recently, the term has been used in two primary offending contexts - on-line grooming and abuse by strangers, and institutional grooming and abuse by those in positions of trust. This article argues, however, that grooming and its role in child sexual abuse is a multi-faceted phenomenon and much more complex than has been highlighted previously. While there are a number of typologies of grooming, this article concentrates on those which may be most relevant for treatment and management contexts - 'peer-to-peer grooming' and 'institutional grooming.' Drawing on extensive fieldwork with professionals who work in the fields of child protection or victim support, and sex offender assessment, treatment or management across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the aim of this article is two-fold: (i) to deconstruct the term grooming and examine its actual role in the onset of sexual offending against children; and (ii) to draw out the implications of these complexities for policy and practice, chiefly in terms of treatment and prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Pageshttp://www.sexual-offender-treatment.org/118.html
JournalSexual Offender Treatment
Journal publication date10 Jun 2013
Journal number1
Volume8
Early online date10/06/2013
DOIs
StatePublished

Research areas

  • grooming; , typologies, pathways, institutional grooming, risk , public health approaches

ID: 4416564