Project DRAGON-S

DRAGON-S Project logo

Every 30 seconds a child makes their first click online. Although the internet offers great opportunities to learn and connect with others, it also has a dark side, where children are vulnerable. It is estimated that at any one time approximately 750,000 individuals are looking to connect with children online for sexual purposes, including grooming for sex (End Violence Against Children). Online groomers use language to form a relationship with the children they prey on, to gain and then betray children’s trust, exploiting children’s wonderful sociability, kind-heartedness, and curiosity.

Project DRAGON-S (Developing Resistance Against Grooming Online – Spotter and Shield) is working to keep children safe from this form of technology-assisted abuse.

During 2021-22, our research and development team developed state-of-the-art, ethically-responsible tools to help detect (DRAGON-Spotter) and prevent (DRAGON-Shield) online grooming.

In 2023, we are piloting and evaluating these tools. We are also embarking on related but new projects: DRAGON+ (Developing Resistance Against Grooming Online – Stories Strengthened Safeguards) and C2CHAT.

Our work at Project DRAGON-S is underpinned by a strong co-creation ethos and work collaboratively with over 400 individuals (child safeguarding practitioners, children, live experience experts, researchers) and 25 organisations across Wales, the UK, Europe, Oceania and the Americas.  Most of our research is applied to English language environments, whilst also paving the way for extension to other languages. For an example, we collaborate on research to develop online grooming detection in Spanish Project StopOnSexGroom (headquartered at the Universitat Politécnica de València), and DRAGON+ entails multi-lingual/multi-cultural research and development.

Find out more about our research.

If you would like to contact us, please email:

In this video Principal Investigator Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus talks about how Project DRAGON-S is using expertise in linguistics, artificial intelligence, criminology, public policy and psychology – and working with partners from around the world including child protection NGOs, policy makers and law enforcement agencies – to develop ethically responsible tools to protect children from online grooming.


DRAGON-S is primarily funded by Safe Online Initiative at End Violence (DRAGON-S) and the Tech Coalition Safe Online Research Fund (DRAGON+), as well as the United Kingdom’s Research and Innovation Fund (Arts and Humanities Research Council Impact Acceleration Account) and the European Union Regional Development Fund (Legal Innovation Lab). 


Spotter tool

Dragon Spotter tool

The DRAGON-Spotter tool integrates Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect online grooming content, pinpointing the manipulative language tactics that groomers use: from making children feel emotionally isolated to communicating sexual intent implicitly and explicitly to them.

DRAGON-Spotter is designed to aid law enforcement’s online grooming detection work and can therefore have a significant impact on our ability to keep children safe from online grooming.

Shield Tool

Dragon-S Shield Tool

DRAGON-Shield is an interactive, multi-media training portal that relays specialist knowledge to child safeguarding practitioners about groomers’ and children’s communicative behaviour during online grooming.

The DRAGON-Shield tool can strengthen child safeguarding practitioners’ ability to prevent children from being sexually groomed online.