online protection
After an almost 100 percent rise in cases of online-based sexual abuse of children, Australian police have warned parents that they have to do more to protect their children.
A member of Australia’s Online Child Exploitation Squad (OCES), Detective Senior Sergeant Lindsay Garratt, said: “It wasn’t too many years ago that we were talking about stranger danger, the offender down at the playground.
“This (internet) has brought the offenders into the house without parents being aware of it.
“Parents need to be aware of the enormity of the issues and do what they can to protect their own children. Parents need to take a lead role and educate kids.”
Sgt. Garrett was speaking after the most recent arrests, a sports coach and teacher who police believe had been operating as online predators. He told that advances in technology were “making it easier and faster for pedophiles to share explicit images and videos of children”.
 “We’re now in an environment where child exploitation material is really rife,” he said. “In the early ‘90s we were talking in megabytes and now we’re talking in gigabytes and terabytes and it won’t be long before we’re talking petabytes (one million gigabytes).
 “With that sort of storage capacity, you can imagine what sort of data has to be analysed. There’s a lot we need to do as a nation to address the issue.”
Sgt Garratt said that as soon as a child is given access to a computer, the internet or a mobile phone, they really need to have a clear understanding of the risks that are involved. He told parents that they should set up Facebook profiles for their children as a joint project in order to help them to understand the risks that are involved.
 “They might just start with family members, the aunty and uncle. They get familiar with it and the subtle crime prevention message gets through,” he said.

William West

William West is a Sydney journalist.