Hyderabad: You have heard about cyber bullying, but have you heard about cyber grooming? Many have not, and the number of victims, particularly teenagers and children, is on an alarming rise, not just in Hyderabad, but across the globe.
A practice that is increasingly being deployed by cyber crooks, known as cyber groomers, cyber grooming is where the cyber predator builds an emotional bond with children through social media or messaging platforms with the objective of gaining their trust for sexually abusing them or exploiting them for financial gains.
According to Cyber Dost, the cyber security booklet released recently by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the cyber groomer uses gaming websites, social media, email, chat rooms, instant messaging and similar platforms, by creating a fake account or pretending to be a child or having similar interests as of the target.
He initially gives compliments, gifts, modelling job offers and so on, before slowly starting to send obscene messages, photographs or videos apart from asking the victim too to share his or her sexually explicit images or videos with them. And gradually, using this, the harassment and blackmailing begins.
Cyber Dost says that many do not realise that someone is grooming them online. The online groomer can be a known person, a relative or an unknown person whom the victim met online on a social media platform, chat room or gaming portal, it says.
Cyber grooming, the booklet adds, can have a deep impact on a child’s physical, emotional as well as psychological wellbeing. It can impact their academic performance and daily life too to a major extent, it says, adding that online grooming can sometimes be long-term and even haunt the victim in their adulthood.