The Different Grooming Stages of Child Trafficking

A child hiding under pillows.

Patterns of grooming: Please watch out for the signs your child may be in danger or trouble. (Image: ambermb via Pixabay)

For a crime that is so horrific and ruthless, the sex trafficking “industry,” including child trafficking, is run by an extremely well-organized, trans-national crime syndicate with a specific hierarchical system. Each individual within the syndicate has a specific role to play and they are extremely calculating at what they do.

The strategy is well worked out and nothing happens overnight. Predators have been known to groom their targets for weeks, months, and even years, and then vanish without a trace after abducting the victim.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

The 5 stages of child trafficking

Stage 1: Befriending

The first level of grooming usually involves someone that the victim is at least reasonably familiar with — a family friend, someone in class, or at least in the same school. It could also be a “secret fan” who keeps appreciating the victim’s social media profile through likes or comments. This “befriender” has been trained on how to gain the trust of the victim. Teenagers seek acceptance and attention. They are looking for an opportunity to fit in or prove themselves in some way. So it could be through a casual encounter at the grocery store, flashing a couple of friendly smiles in class, or just coincidentally being at the same party as a mutual friend. The trust-gleaning process is slow but sure. It’s not obvious externally, but inside, the wheels are turning as the process continues to wrest away the victim’s mental control.

Stage 2: Dependence

In the second stage, the child trafficking befriender generally steps up the game to pull the victim into a trap through drugs, alcohol, or anything that the victim would like to try out. This is especially the case if the victim is from a very strictly controlled environment. The technique is two-pronged — the victim’s mental constitution is broken down and she becomes dependent on the groomer for access to these substances. This could happen at parties in the neighborhood or at any venue with no responsible adult supervision.

Hidden dangers of child trafficking.
In the second stage, the victim is made dependent on drugs. (Image: stevepb via Pixabay)

Stage 3: Transfer of control

This is the stage where the child trafficking predator isolates the victim from her parents. He provokes the victim to stand up against her parents’ control and “fight for her freedom.” This process may take the form of throwing tantrums, rebellion, or antagonizing her parents and family. There is a noticeable shift in behavior and personality. Parents tend to write it off as “growing pains” or just something “every teenager would go through.” Again, it’s about taking control.

Stage 4: Isolation from peer group

In the fourth stage, the victim is estranged and separated from her own peer group. The victim’s priorities have changed and her behavior becomes irritating to the extent that her friends and peers cannot tolerate or relate to her the way that they used to. She is no longer the same person.

In the fourth stage, the victim is no longer the same person they used to be.
In the fourth stage, the victim is no longer the same person they used to be. (Image: TyLamb via Pixabay)

Stage 5: Desensitization

At this point, the victim’s moral compass is set spinning off course. Any values instilled by her core family have been wiped clean and she is completely within the control of the child trafficking predator. This is the point of no return.

As parents of teenagers, you need to be aware of the challenges and insecurities that your children are facing every day through social media and within their peer groups. It’s important to have an open channel of conversation at all times and be sensitive to behavioral changes that cannot be explained. Above all, it’s imperative to be the person your child trusts above everyone else.

Visit ChildProof America for more details on how to look for identifiers if someone is influencing your children, and what to do when you find them.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

A bronze statue of Plato.

The Life and Works of the Philosopher Plato, 427-347 B.C.

Plato was a Greek philosopher from Athens, the most famous student of Socrates, and the ...

From 'The Boy and the heron.'

The Boy and the Heron: Hayao Miyazaki’s Latest Studio Ghibli Masterpiece

The Boy and the Heron might seem unfamiliar, but in just a matter of time, ...

A woman embracing a horse's head.

Equine Empathy: The Remarkable Connection of Horses to Human Emotions

You’ve likely heard that dogs are man’s best friend, but horses may be the most ...

A birdseye view of some Hong Kong school students during an excursion.

Hong Kong Students to Have More Compulsory ‘Red’ Study Trips to Mainland China

In April 2023, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Eric Chan bid farewell to about 200 Hong ...

This is an image of the comet known as C/2023 P1 (Nishimura).

Are We About to See the Rare Green Comet Nishimura Light Up the Sky?

Of all the objects in the Solar System, perhaps the most spectacular are the great ...

Mr. Yang.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 1)

Mr. Yang, one of China’s highly successful entrepreneurs now living in exile, recounted how he ...

A closeup view of jail cell iron bars casting shadows on the prison floor.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything Overnight on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 2)

Mr. Yang said persecuted entrepreneurs like him are too numerous in his home province and ...

Stir-fried pebbles.

Stir-Fried Pebbles: Chinese Vendors Are Making a Dish Made of Stones

Chinese street food vendors have amused the world by creating a unique cuisine; stir-fried pebbles, ...

Chinese painting of Kou Zhun, an official during the Northern Song Dynasty.

The Inspirational Story of Kou Zhun’s Mother: A Lesson in Moral Education

China, with its 5,000-year-old civilization, has always been recognized for the importance it places on ...

Send this to a friend