Enhance the understanding of the tech-facilitated grooming process and how it can lead to missing children for a Comprehensive European Strategy against Grooming and Missing (CESAGRAM).

CESAGRAM aims to enhance the understanding of the process of grooming, and more particularly how it is facilitated by technology and how it can lead to child sexual abuse and missing, in order to ensure that grooming for sexual abuse which potentially leads to going missing is prevented insofar possible, as well as to ensure that victims of grooming are identified and receive appropriate support before, during and after a disappearance.

The CESAGRAM project will mainly target young people 11-14 who are at risk of grooming or are victims of grooming themselves and are at risk of missing, carers and teachers, frontline professionals (social workers, NGOs, law enforcement) as well as policy makers. It will support the implementation of the existing legislation on child sexual abuse along with the European Commission’s Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (CSAPN) and the future European Centre against Child Sexual Abuse, as well as the relevant strategies developed by the European Commission (Child Rights Strategy, EU Child Sexual Abuse strategy, European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children).

  • Being online can pose a risk to children: As with all spaces children inhabit, the digital environment can expose them to risks of sexual exploitation and abuse, including grooming.
  • Grooming is an increasing factor in disappearances: Missing Children Europe’s hotlines report concerns that grooming is a growing factor in disappearances, particularly in children who run away.
  • Little knowledge: Research on grooming in relation to missing is sparse. There is a need for more research to understand the potential links between grooming and missing.
  • The project will work: On an EU level, but specifically in Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Lithuania.

Project Activities

CESAGRAM will work towards a Comprehensive European Strategy against Grooming and Missing children by conducting a range of separate yet interconnected activities: Research, Training and Awareness Raising, the creation of an AI Tool, and Advocacy. The project will be delivered through a partnership consisting of 11 expert organisations and is funded by the European Commission.

1. Research

Legal analysis: CESAGRAM will conduct a mapping of the existing research and legislation and policy frameworks on tech-facilitated grooming in the four target countries and on the EU level.

Survivor experiences: By speaking to up to 20 survivors of tech-facilitated grooming and missing, the understanding of these experiences will be deepened. The aim is to gain knowledge about risk factors, develop criteria for assessing whether a missing person under 18 may have been groomed because of better victim identification, and understand victims’ experiences while being groomed.

Police Case File Analysis: We aim to analyse police case files from national police forces on tech-facilitated grooming, particularly those with an element of missing. This analysis is meant to complement the survivor experiences interviews on risk factors and victim identification assessment criteria, as well as complement existing sets of criteria for automated detection of grooming conversations online. Additionally, the police case files will be used to develop an annotated corpus of grooming conversations.

2. Training and Awareness Raising

The overall objective is to develop training for better exchange of knowledge, experience and good practice for professionals and develop tools for young people to recognise grooming and better protect themselves.

Professionals Training: Throughout the project will provide training frontline professionals and law enforcement to improve their responses to victims of child sexual abuse. A country-specific approach will be taken to sensitise frontline providers to the issues of grooming and missing and improve the response to this issue. Trainings will be delivered as ‘Train the Trainer’ courses to ensure the sustainability of this activity.

Training Tools for young people: The project will develop a curriculum for training young people to open conversations around grooming and raise awareness on grooming patterns, warning signs and how to identify and react to these. This will be further built on by creating a gamified educational platform targeted at 11–14-year-olds.

3. AI Tool

CESAGRAM will produce an AI tool which aims to will facilitate the prevention of grooming content online. The AI tool will draw on a realistic use case which considers the operational needs of law enforcement. The AI tool will be a linguistic analysis tool which can detect grooming activities based on natural language processing techniques and authorship analysis. The aim of the tool is to assess the likelihood of grooming behaviour in online interactions and generate early warnings where appropriate.

4. Advocacy

Throughout the course of the project, a deposit of knowledge will be built and accumulated from a range of experts, related projects, and stakeholders. This knowledge will be localised in a Knowledge Hub to inform on the CESAGRAM Project and its outputs but also showcase and highlight other existing work on grooming and missing.

CESAGRAM will produce actionable advocacy materials to inform discussions with EU stakeholders and national Governments about further action to prevent grooming and missing.


The impact of the project includes:

  • More victims identified and assisted who have gone missing as a result of grooming;
  • Increased awareness, co-operation and referral amongst frontline professionals, including law enforcement, to quickly identify and respond to grooming victims at all stages of the process;
  • Better informed young people on the issue of grooming, risks and avenues of support;
  • Increased availability of technical tools for law enforcement to detect grooming as a factor in missing cases and preventively when there is an indication of risk;
  • Better knowledge and understanding on the link between missing and grooming amongst professionals;
  • Improved policies and legislation to protect children from grooming.

Contact person

Theresa Ryan-Rouger
Senior Project Officer for Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Contact us

KULeuven CESAGRAM Partner

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