Australia’s top cop and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw says that locking the front door is no longer enough to keep kids safe.
“Online predators are reaching into our kids’ bedrooms using electronic devices and they are grooming our most vulnerable,” said Commissioner Kershaw.
“They are creating and sharing horrific abuse material – all with their own invisibility cloak because encryption and the dark web keeps their identity a secret.
“Together, we need to do more.”
The stark warning came at the end of Australia’s 30th annual National Child Protection week and in the aftermath of a viral video of a graphic and disturbing suicide.
Commissioner Kershaw used the opportunity to assure Aussie parents that the AFP and other law enforcement agencies are committed to relentlessly protecting our most vulnerable and hunting down deviant predators.
“The AFP will continue to work with government partners to ensure our powers remain fit for purpose so we can identify, disrupt and charge these offenders,” he said.
“The AFP will continue to work with government partners to ensure our powers remain fit for purpose so we can identify, disrupt and charge these offenders.”
“We will ensure the investigative tools in our tool kit can help rip off those cowards’ [invisibility] cloaks – because we need to uncover these monsters for the sake of our children.”
Speaking with radio host Ray Hadley, Commissioner Kershaw said that in the 12 months to June 30 this year, police received 21,000 reports of child sexual exploitation, a near 50 per cent increase from the previous year.
It can be difficult, living in this internet age, to know what your child is doing online, who they are talking to and if they are safe. However, with access to the internet for both children and predators, it is more important than ever that parents do everything they can to keep their kids safe, he said.
To help out, here are a few tips recommended by the AFP and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation for staying safe online.
Primary school aged kids should always be overseen by an adult to ensure they are safe, and not accidentally engaging in dangerous situations. Never leave young children alone online.
Tweens and early teens should have their online activity monitored. As kids get older they will naturally want more independence, it is important however that parents keep an eye on them and know what they’re doing online.
Older teen’s online need to be educated on the dangers of the internet and know how to stay safe. It is also important that kids this age know they can come to their parents if they think they need help.
Tips for using WIFI.
When at home, using encryptions and passwords to protect your internet can help secure private information and stay safer online. When using public WIFI, make sure you’re only using secure websites and avoid file and personal information sharing. For more information on using WIFI safely, click here.
Discuss safe searching with your child and what to do if they come across something which makes them feel uncomfortable online. It is crucial children develop digital literacy skills so they can assess the value and accuracy of the content they see.
What to do if you see something you wish you hadn’t.
Sometimes negative videos go viral, people online share them where they shouldn’t or in some cases, like the recent suicide video, deliberately put them where children might see them. If something like this happens, step one is to turn off the device and walk away. After that, communication is important. Encourage your child to come to you or a trusted adult if they see something online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
For more information on how to stay safe online, head to one of these resources recommended by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.
The Foundation runs evidence-based programs that prevent violence and advocate for children’s safety and wellbeing.
Bravehearts provides personal safety education programs for children as well as tailored child protection training packages for organisations working with and providing support to young people.
The Carly Ryan Foundation was created to promote internet safety, providing support to families and the community through education, counselling, engagement, promotion and advocacy.
ACT Policing’s Constable Kenny Koala program is designed to educate children between three to 12 years of age on a range of safety themes, and to encourage them to turn to police for help and advice.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation aims to educate children and young people on how to stay safe in physical and online environments and to support young survivors of crime.
eSafety is responsible for promoting online safety for all Australians and provides online safety resources for schools, parents and communities.
Download the eSafety Commissioner’s guide to dealing with the sharing of explicit material at your school here. This guide has been produced by the eSafety Commissioner, in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, the ThinkUKnow program, and input by the Association of Independent Schools NSW.
PlayingITSafe is a series of play-based learning activities about technology and Online Safety for early learning settings and at home – for children and their parents, carers and educators.
ThinkUKnow is Australia’s only nationally delivered law enforcement-led online child safety program that provides education for parents, carers and teachers, children and young people to address the issue of online child sexual exploitation. ThinkUKnow resources explore what young people SEE, SAY, and DO online. Using real case studies from the ACCCE, the program addresses challenges such as self-produced child exploitation (sexting), privacy and unwanted contact, online grooming, sexual extortion and importantly how to get help and report. Free resources are available for parents, carers and teachers at thinkuknow.org.au.ThinkUKnow is a partnership between the AFP and industry and delivered in collaboration with all State and Territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.