The Role of Grooming in Child Sexual Abuse
Grooming is generally taken to refer to the preparatory process which precedes child sexual abuse. Professor McAlinden’s article published in 2006 was one of the first academic outputs on this topic. Her profile as a recognised international authority on grooming has been underpinned by a series of publications as well as presentations to professional audiences and expert testimony, directly broadening the political, public and legal understanding of grooming and its role in child sexual abuse.
Professor McAlinden’s research prompted reform of the law relating to grooming in six Australian states and territories. Her research, highlighting the ‘legislative gap’ that exists with respect to the grooming of persons other than a child and in off-line settings was cited in support of the recommendations of a major parliamentary inquiry in Victoria (2013), the second most populous state in Australia. For the first time anywhere, grooming was criminalised as a ‘stand-alone’ sexual offence. She was invited to review a research report and subsequently give evidence to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in March 2017 on ‘grooming and entrapment.’
In its final report, McAlinden’s research and testimony emerged as being pivotal to the Commission’s understanding, findings and recommendations in relation to grooming and its role in child sexual abuse. In particular, they modelled their understanding of grooming on her definition and recommended the enactment of a new grooming offence across Australia capturing any communication or conduct with a child and the grooming of persons other than the child. A further five states or territories have introduced legislation to this effect.
Learn more about Professor Anne-Marie McAllinden’s work.