NATIONAL child protection advocate Bravehearts is urging teenagers to play a role in protecting their siblings from online predators by boosting awareness around the importance of online safety and utilising the tools available to empower and protect them.
It follows 150 child sex charges against a 47-year-old Warwick man recently which stemmed from online grooming.
Research shows that advances in on-line technologies continue to provide increased opportunities for child sex offenders, including for grooming victims, accessing child exploitation material and networking.
Bravehearts CEO and Founder Hetty Johnston AM says both parents and teenagers, who are often more adept at using digital technologies, need to be aware of the dangers posed by computers and smart phones and the tools available to report inappropriate activity.
“Parents need to be extra vigilant and aware of the risks associated with children using internet enabled devices, but teenagers and young people also need to share what they are seeing and experiencing online to protect their younger siblings against a crime that is increasing at the same rate technology evolves,” she says.
“Through the education and empowerment of parents and children, we can work together to prevent crimes against children committed by online sex predators.
“Join the Dots is a mechanism that empowers young people by giving them the confidence and tools to protect their cyber space from predators while creating a safer online environment for their peers and the next generation.
“By taking a lead on this they become the guardians of their domain. People should be able to use the internet without having to worry about the ‘creepers’ who troll through their space.”
Ms Johnston says young people could anonymously provide information on cyber predators through Join the Dots, an Australian-first online reporting tool developed in conjunction with Queensland Police Service.
“Through Join the Dots young people can report the activity they are seeing and experiencing and help authorities to ‘join the dots’. Even the tiniest piece of information can assist and often it’s part of a bigger picture that can help to protect other younger kids,” she said.
“We urge parents and teenagers to play a proactive role in this so that together we can protect children from being exploited.”
Join the Dots reporting guidelines ask questions such as what happened, where the incident occurred, whether it was on a social networking site or an app and what type of device was being used when the incident occurred.
Click to watch the Nine News piece on online grooming featuring Bravehearts' Join the Dots cyber safety initiative.
Need to talk to someone? Bravehearts is here to help - 1800 272 831.