Sexual predators utilise
internet communication tools such as, chat rooms, gaming sites, instant messaging
apps, e.g. WhatsApp or social networks, e.g. Facebook, to make contact with
The web offers a perpetrator
more opportunities to have unrestricted access to a child for a number of
reasons, which include that it is considered the social norm for children to
chat online, and parents limited knowledge of social media which enables the
access to continue unchallenged.
With their objective focused
on gaining the confidence and trust of the victim, and to persuade the victim
to participate in online and offline sexual activity, the perpetrator will
usually pose as another child of the same age, to enable them to be accepted
more easily into the social environment.
Over time, by listening to
their problems and giving them gifts and compliments, the perpetrator will
build up trust with their victim. Once a rapport is built and trust has formed,
the perpetrator will start to sexualise the online conversations. This may
involve encouraging the child to email suggestive photographs of themselves; expose
themselves on webcam; or to meet the predator in person.
It is recognised that perpetrators
have actively sought out vulnerable targets such as single mothers in places
where there will be a high concentration of children, such as a schoolyards or
Once the perpetrator has selected
to gain their trust, they will actively seek to gain information about the child and place themselves in surroundings where
they can give their future victim attention.
The perpetrator will seek out to win the trust of the parent/guardian, and over time
exploit a situation to find a valid opportunity to be isolated with the child
without raising suspicions, for example offering the child a lift home. The perpetrator will move to make the
relationship sexual in the isolation stage, for example gradually introducing
innocent activities such as tickling or play fighting (Estey & Bomberger LLP, 2018).