The way a predator gains access to children is by a process known as grooming. Grooming is the tactic of gradually and methodically building trust with a child – and the adults around them – to gain increased access and alone time with their future victim. Grooming allows predators to gain significant advantages, such as reducing disclosure, reducing the likelihood of the child being believed, reducing detection, manipulating adult perception of the child, and convincing the child into being a cooperative participant. In each element of the grooming process, the predator will also use their ability to charm and be likeable; it’s the most effective way to get a child to trust them, and also the easiest way for adults to be unassuming at first, and possibly even support the molester during allegations. The following lesson encompasses rules to avoid falling victim to the manipulative process of grooming.
Below you will find the specific rules, which must be taught as a standard to follow in all situations. Telling a child that certain individuals, such as grandma or a close friend are okay causes confusion, as the child may decide others are okay as well. In addition, the children should be reminded to apply the skills learned in Lesson 1 by knowing to Tell a Star Adult on their Safety Star chart how they felt about situations when they may have made a wrong decision as well as times when they made the correct choice of getting the OK from their Grown-Up in charge.
Do you remember who a grown-up in charge is? (DISCUSS)
Sara was home with her babysitter and her baby sister, and they were playing a game. Sara was having so much fun when the babysitter said it’s time to put the baby to sleep. She tells Sara to stay downstairs and read a book. Sara sits on the couch and starts to look at the pictures in her favorite book, when all of a sudden she hears a knock at the door. She hears a man’s voice say “UPS” and she peeks through the window. Sara sees that it is UPS and he’s holding a very big box. Sara is so excited, she can’t wait to open the door.
Do you think that’s safe? Let’s stop and think what Sara is feeling. Last week Sara’s grandmother called and told her that she is sending Sara a special gift for her birthday in the mail. Sara thinks that maybe the big box the UPS man is delivering is the gift from her grandmother. How would you feel if you were Sara? (Allow the students to answer) But what is our rule? Can Sara open up the door by just looking to see who is there? Sara thinks she knows the UPS man. She recognizes
him. His name is Mike and he comes to their house to deliver packages pretty often. Her mother is so nice to him. She always asks him if he wants to have a drink and he always says hi to Sara when he sees her standing next to her mommy.
Our rule is ALWAYS the same, even when you know the person well, or you think you know the person like Mike the UPS guy. Sara doesn’t think he’s a stranger, since she always sees him, her mom speaks to him, and is always friendly. But even though Mike doesn’t feel like a stranger, the only time Sara is allowed to speak to him is when her grown-up is with her. You must always make sure it’s ok by asking a Grown-Up in charge first. So now Sara has to ask her grown up in charge, her babysitter, if it’s okay to open the door. But Sara has another problem. Her mommy told her that when the baby is being put to bed, no one is allowed to interrupt unless it’s an emergency. Sara is not sure if this is an emergency. Maybe whatever is in the box is important and her parents will be upset that she didn’t open the door.
What do you think? (Have students give ideas of what Sara can do.)
This is not an emergency and Sara needs to make sure she doesn’t open the door until her babysitter comes down and says it’s okay. That means, if the UPS man leaves, Sara still can’t open the door.
Do you think you will never get that package back if you don’t open the door right then? (Allow students to answer)
UPS knows that they can leave the package outside the door or come back the next day to deliver. Did this situation ever happen to you? (Keep stories to a minimum)
1. Bus driver giving one child candy and telling her it is just for her because she is a good girl and if she tells anyone he will get into trouble.
2. Candy man in shul offering candy and many kids are taking it.
3. A man comes to collect charity. He looks very nice and Jewish and it’s a mitzvah to open the door.
4. You are really bored and your mother says to stay on the steps. Your neighbor, whom you know very well, invites you over to see a new toy.
5. You are playing at the park with your friends and your Grown up In Charge. Someone kicks the ball too far. You see a nice looking man who says he lost his cute little dog and ask if you will help him search for it. He looks very upset.
6. You are at a friend’s birthday party and another friend says to you “lets go exploring and have a secret adventure.”
7. You are at a gymnastics lesson. A neighbor who you recognize from synagogue
says she needs to take you home because there is an emergency and your mother needs her to drive you.
This lesson is extremely important, as the situations discussed are precursors used to groom a child and can potentially lead to an abuse situation. If we can get students to be savvy and avoid situations that put them in danger we can use prevention to its fullest capacity. Therefore, it is crucial that you ensure every student understands this lesson.