Stranger Danger 2.0

It’s important for parents to understand what grooming looks like, and to teach kids how to deal with strangers online, before they have access that lets them chat and connect with others. Helping kids distinguish safe online relationships from risky ones is key, as well as providing tools for knowing when and how to ask for help, or cut things off.

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What you can do now


Reframe “strangers” with a digital lens

Kids regularly interact with their real-life friends online, so it doesn’t seem quite as weird when a new person might start playing a game with them or likes a photo that they share. It’s increasingly normal to make friends online, so avoid framing conversations regarding people they don’t know in real life as being strangers. Instead, focus on red flags and behaviors that may indicate that someone has bad intentions. Start early to begin fine tuning their radar to understand what to look out for. Consider starting with parental controls.


Learn about online grooming and teach your child to recognize red flags

Online grooming can happen quickly or over time, but at its core it’s a process of exploiting trust to shift expectations of what safe behavior is and leveraging fear and shame to keep a child silent. Start by learning the red flags and identify inflection points to weave them into conversations. Leverage offline safety concepts like recognizing the difference between safe and “tricky” people and explain how it’s even easier for people online to pretend to be someone they aren’t.


Dig into Discussion Guides

Start a dialogue about what online interactions should and shouldn’t look like, how to cut off contact, and where to get help when they need it. Build upon earlier skills ensuring they have an understanding of what online grooming is, and as their relationships become more private, make sure they know it’s never their fault if someone tricks them, threatens or betrays them.

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Keep Talking

As kids get older, they will begin to build stronger communities online, which may consist of a mix of people they know offline, friends they’ve made online, and people they don’t know at all.
Keep the dialogue going to build their skills to recognize risky interactions so they can safely interact with others as their device independence grows. Build skills by talking through scenarios like “what would you do if an online friend asked where you lived?” so they can practice recognizing red flags and when to get help.

Additional Resources

From simple tips to complex explorations, we’ve gathered a range of information, videos, and articles designed to help you keep exploring these topics.


Online grooming: What it is, how it happens, and how to defend children

Source: Thorn

To understand how grooming happens online, it’s important to remember that teenagers today have the same wants and needs as they always have: the desire for self-discovery, a need for validation, and a yearning for attention.

Read article


Grooming & Red Flag Behaviors

Source: Darkness to Light

Child grooming is a deliberate process by which offenders gradually initiate and maintain sexual relationships with victims in secrecy. This article will help you discover grooming examples and actions you can take when a child is vulnerable or uncomfortable.

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Tips and Tricks to Keep Yourself Safe From Online Creepers

Source: Love146

We know that the internet isn't a scary place. But it’s important to remember that interacting with people online can get complicated. Here are some helpful tips.

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Unwanted Contact & Grooming

Source: eSafety Commissioner

Socializing online can be a great way for children to build friendships, but it can also put them at risk. Help your child to deal with online contact that makes them uncomfortable.

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REAL Friends Don’t

Source: The McCain Institute

R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t is an initiative aimed at combatting human trafficking and promoting child safety online.

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Being Safe on the Internet

Source: Amaze

This video includes tips on internet safety, advising young people to think carefully before they share pictures and videos on the Internet. It goes over what to do if someone you met on the Internet makes you uncomfortable – stop communication immediately and tell a trusted adult.


Grooming: Know the Warning Signs

Source: RAINN

One tool common to those who sexually abuse kids and teens is grooming. Though grooming can take many different forms, it often follows a similar pattern.

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What is grooming?

Source: INHOPE

Grooming is defined as "actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child".

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Livestreaming and Online Video Apps

Source: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Learn what livestreaming and online video apps are and why young people use them. We’ve got advice to help you understand the challenges and keep your child safe.

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Stop Sextortion: Tips for Caregivers

Source: Thorn

Sextortion: the threat to reveal intimate images to get someone to do something. Get tips & resources for caregivers to stop sextortion before it starts.

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