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A psycho-linguistic profile of online grooming conversations: A comparative study of prison and police staff considerations

Laura Broome Orcid Logo, Cristina Izura Orcid Logo, Jason Davies Orcid Logo

Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume: 109, Start page: 104647

Swansea University Authors: Laura Broome Orcid Logo, Cristina Izura Orcid Logo, Jason Davies Orcid Logo

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Abstract

BackgroundInternet-initiated sexual offences against minors (i.e., online grooming (OG)) is a communicative process of entrapment used by adults to entice minors into sexual activities. Yet, research exploring how the language used by such individuals might reflect their psychological world is scarc...

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Published in: Child Abuse & Neglect
ISSN: 0145-2134
Published: Elsevier BV 2020
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa55278
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Abstract: BackgroundInternet-initiated sexual offences against minors (i.e., online grooming (OG)) is a communicative process of entrapment used by adults to entice minors into sexual activities. Yet, research exploring how the language used by such individuals might reflect their psychological world is scarce. Interestingly, researchers have largely assumed that adults who engage in OG behaviours create a deceptive relationship to reach sexual intent. However, no study to date has investigated the deceptive component of these interactions.ObjectiveTo explore the psycholinguistic and deceptive properties of chats where OG is present, from the perspective of front-line specialists.Participants and SettingPrison staff (n = 7) and police officers (n = 9) and sixty-five chat logs from adults convicted of an online sexual offence against a minor.MethodsA mixed-method approach was employed, whereby qualitative (focus groups) data collection informed subsequent quantitative (the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC)) data analyse of adult-child online sexual chats, using the model of OG discourse as the theoretical rationale.ResultsSpecialist considered that the online abuse/exploitation of minors can occur without deception. Adults who engage in OG behaviour use language that denotes affiliation with a positive emotional tone (p = .003, ηp2 = .59). The communicative focus is the development of an interpersonal relationship, above engagement in sexual talk (p < .001, ηp2 = .96).ConclusionsFindings challenge the common perception that the relationship is centred on deception and identify the intention of some adults as the development of a perceived genuine interpersonal relationship.
Keywords: Online grooming; Child sexual offenders; Psycho-linguistics; Deception
College: College of Human and Health Sciences
Start Page: 104647