PEOPLE who engage in a behaviour known as grooming could face 10 years in prison under tough new laws to be introduced into Victorian parliament.
Grooming is when an offender seeks to cultivate a child or their family in order to facilitate sexual abuse of the child.
Under the proposed laws sexual abuse does not have to occur or be attempted for a person to commit the offence.
Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Morris said grooming was an issue across society.
"There is no one type of person who commits grooming offences," he said.
"Grooming is a methodical approach employed by abusers to bring about what it is they wish to achieve."
Detective Senior Sergeant Morris said parents who suspected grooming had occurred should use their intuition.
"If something doesn't feel right it may be because a person is acting outside of social norms," he said.
"If parents feel the behaviour of a particular person is unusual, they can contact SOCIT and we can provide advice.
"Trust your instincts."
The creation of the new offence forms part of the government's response to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Family and Community Development Committee's Betrayal of Trust report on the handling of child sex abuse allegations.
Attorney General Robert Clark said a parliamentary committee identified that sexual abusers often sought not only to groom an intended victim, but also their parents, teachers and others who had care of the child.
“The committee highlighted the calculated and protracted use of grooming techniques by abusers to develop a relationship over time with an intended victim or their family," he said.
“This law recognises the insidious methods these sexual predators use in befriending and relationship building prior to perpetrating their abuse.”
Contact SOCIT at Bendigo Police Station on 5448 1300