Background: Online child grooming includes the online behaviors of an adult aimed at achieving some type of sexual interaction with a minor. However, to date, quantitative research that has investigated the strategies online groomers employ to gain their victim's trust is scarce. Objective: To this end, the main aim of this study was to distinguish and measure different strategies of the online grooming process by developing and examining the psychometric properties of the Multidimensional Online Grooming Questionnaire (MOGQ). We also analyzed the prevalence of different strategies of online grooming among a sample of minors and their associations with grooming outcomes (i.e., online sexual solicitations and sexual interactions) and mental health (i.e., depression and anxiety). Participants and setting: The sample consisted of 1704 participants between 12 and 15 years of age (864 girls; Mage = 13.77, SD = 1.13). Methods: Examination of the structure of the MOGQ was accomplished using Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). For this purpose, the sample was randomly divided into two subsamples. Results: EFA and CFA showed a structure composed of five factors, including Use of Deception, Gift giving, Study of victim's environment, Sexualization, and Aggression. Second, the analysis of the relationship of online grooming with grooming outcomes (online sexual solicitations and sexual interactions) and mental health (i.e., depression and anxiety) provided evidence for the concurrent validity of the instrument. Finally, the prevalence of grooming strategies within the sample ranged between 7% for aggression to 18% for interest in the victim's environment. Overall grooming strategies were more prevalent for girls than boys and increased with age. Conclusion: Distinguishing between different strategies of online grooming is recommended in order to advance research and the prevention of this type of child abuse.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health