Grooming: some real stats on child abuse

groomer grooming

What are the real facts about grooming and child abuse? And what is the effect of the casual use of ‘groomer’ as a slur?

In recent times, ‘groomer’ became the go-to slur for haters. Whether it’s drag queen storytime, trans welfare or the mere display of a rainbow flag… Trolls roam social media and post the slur on any positive LGBTQIA+ content they find.

Last week, English agitator Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull — aka Posie Parker — lost it when pro-trans protestors outnumbered haters at her rally outside Tasmania’s State Parliament. Casting her eyes around, the angry TERF pointed at a random stranger.

“There’s a groomer. There you are. Groomer!

As casually as that, she accused someone she knew nothing about, of child abuse.

Linking queer people with child abuse began in the 1970s as the gay rights movement gained traction. The Mother of Modern Homophobia, Anita Bryant, founded an organisation called Save Our Children to sabotage an anti-discrimination ordinance. In Florida of all places!

Haters promote a ‘nurture not nature’ pseudoscience that insists people with an orientation or identity they disapprove of, must have been corrupted. Over the decades, as community tolerance of difference and specifically of LGBTQIA+ people increased, haters found themselves in the minority. In many countries, they perceived marriage equality as the last straw. Electorates scoffed at threats of the sky falling in, and the reform found easy acceptance.

Desperate to poison society in general with their own malevolent prejudice, haters began to link anything queer with grooming and child abuse.

The narrative then traversed the globe to places as diverse as Russia, Florida, Uganda and Australia. Right-wing politicians seize on the groomer narrative to promote policies and laws erasing queer people from public space.

But let’s look at some facts.

The Stats

Child abuse is a shocking problem, in Australia and globally.

The World Health Organisation says one in 5 women and 1 in 13 men report suffering sexual abuse before the age of 17.

In 2019, an Australian Bureau of Statistics analysis of data from the 2016 Personal Safety Survey revealed that 1.4 million adult Australians (7.7%) experienced sexual abuse as children.

Who are the abusers?

According to the ABS stats, 86% of Australians who experienced childhood sexual abuse knew the perpetrator in the first incidence of abuse.

35.1% were first abused by a family member. That included fathers, mothers, step-fathers, step-mothers, adult brothers/step-brothers, adult sisters/step-sisters, or other adult relatives.

A further 51.2% of the victims were first abused by someone already known to them: family friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers, childcare workers, and clergy.

The 2017 report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that 58.1% of reported abuse took place in a religious institution. Among others, over 40% of the Catholic St John of God Brothers sexually abused children in their care. The same for 22% of Christian Brothers.

Currently, the founder of the Hillsong Megachurch awaits judgement for concealing his father’s sexual abuse of a parishioner’s child.

But where are the right-wing protestors outside Australia’s cathedrals?

Where are the concerned citizens screaming ‘groomer’ outside the Hillsong church?

They are almost non-existent because grooming accusations are not about protecting children. It’s about demonising already marginalised groups to drive them from the public space. It’s about hateful spiteful people unwilling to give up their entitlement to inflict their beliefs on the entire populace.

If these people truly cared about child abuse and wanted to make a worthwhile contribution instead of spreading hate, there is something very easy that can be done about child abuse.


Many abusers escaped detection in the past because of deferential treatment. As supposed paragons of virtue, clergymen, for example, were automatically accorded honour and trust. Hence, the shocking figures listed above.

So, instead of demonising some sections of the community with slurs and unfounded accusations while regarding others as protected species, treat everyone equally under the law.

Equality. Everyone wins.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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