The Child Sexual Grooming Kill Chain, Select
The first stage in the Child Sexual Grooming Kill Chain is selecting the victim. The abuser may make their selection based on many criteria. Criteria may include, ease of access, attractiveness, or the size of the child. Other criteria may include their family situation or a vulnerability such as neediness.
Children in families where drug or alcohol addictions are present are at a higher risk. Also, children in families where domestic abuse occurs may be easier targets. Victim selection is strategic and well planned. There are many scenarios that an abuser seeks to exploit to gain access to a victim. The attackers have experience and the advantage of striking first.
As defenders, we want to strike as close to the beginning of the chain as possible. We can limit or avoid damage if we can stop or deny the attack at the select phase. As the abuser moves further along the kill chain, the more damage they are able to achieve. This phase can occur online. Attempts can occur while using social media, gaming, or doing other online activities. Also, it can occur offline in places such as schools, malls, etc.
Our primary mission is to discourage the selection of our children by abusers. Also, when possible, we must discourage the selection of children under our influence. Moreover, we must teach children how to protect themselves from potential abusers.
One method of protection is to dress and teach our children to dress in a conservative manner. Dressing in a provocative manner may increase the chance of attracting an abuser. To some abusers, the attention may only be due to the provocative look. Other abusers may see indicators of a rebellious child or one with poor self-esteem.
Another method to protect children is being involved in every aspect of their lives. We should involve ourselves in the activities of our children as often as possible. Children involved in sports should have a parent in the stands cheering them on. The presence of involved parents will make the child a less attractive target.
The next blog in this series will focus on the access part of the kill chain.
1. Georgia M. Winters & Elizabeth L. Jeglic (2017) Stages of Sexual Grooming: Recognizing Potentially Predatory Behaviors of Child Molesters, Deviant Behavior, 38:6, 724-733, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2016.1197656