CHILDREN are not safe online, says Detective Superintendent Jane Welsh. “The reality is that increased online socialising and other activities caused by the global pandemic provides a greater opportunity for online sexual offending and unwanted contact, particularly for children.”
She recommends parents initiate online safety discussions early, monitor their children’s online activity, have access to their accounts so as to be able to identify risks, recognise signs of unwanted contact, and collect evidence and report suspicious behaviour.
Detective Welsh said young people were also at risk of being targeted by predators online. “Inappropriate contact online can come from a range of sources including social networking sites, video and image sharing, gaming and instant messaging apps,” she said.
“We have young people spending a lot more time online, possibly with limited adult supervision.
“They are likely to be distanced from their friends and peers, so being online is a way to keep that connectivity. They might also be making new ‘friends’ online where, realistically, they have no idea who that person is.
“They could be naive to some of the risks around these sites and apps and so become a target for predatory offenders.”
Parents and carers are urged to have conversations about online safety and be aware of the risks.
First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 7 July 2020