PARENTS and carers have been warned to remind their children about online safety during the current COVID-19 restrictions and upcoming school holidays.
With the community spending more time indoors and at home following the shutdown of all non-essential services and direction to self-isolate, NSW Police are encouraging parents to speak to their children about their activities online.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, wants parents to feel reassured that during this crisis everything is being done to protect the wellbeing of the whole community, including children.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic, and as a government we don’t want to add to the fear in the community, but we need to ensure children who are attending school online are not being exposed to this insipid risk,” Mr Elliott said.
“While we have seen most of the community band together to work through these difficult times, I’m sickened by the thought of predators using a crisis to exploit our most vulnerable.
“The activities of parents and carers will be supported by dedicated officers who are ready to respond to reported criminal or inappropriate activities,” Mr Elliott said.
Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, said internet usage has already increased and this is a timely reminder for all parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing online.
“With the current restrictions in place and school holidays starting next week, we know more children will be spending time indoors at home, which often includes activities on devices and on the internet,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.
“While online activities can include accessing education material, we are encouraging parents to remain vigilant and monitor their usage, including what websites they are visiting, and who they may be speaking with.
“Not only should young people be very careful about providing personal information details to a person they only know in an online environment, they should never organise to meet, as doing so may place them at further risk of harm.
“If they encounter something or someone they are not comfortable with, we encourage them to speak to a person they trust, who can then let our investigators know,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.
With the number of online communication applications increasing, it is very important to speak to children about the dangers associated with online conversations.
“If you or your child ever come across any concerning material online, we would encourage you to contact local police immediately,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.
“We have specialist officers that investigate the sexual exploitation of children online and via telecommunication systems, and we can only help if the incidents are reported.”
Safe internet use – tips for parents and carers:
- Monitor how much time your child spends on the internet, what websites they are visiting and who they may be speaking to.
- Ensure you are able to access your child’s email and social media accounts and randomly check the contents.
- Remind children to never send pictures of themselves to anyone they don’t know and never place a full profile and picture anywhere on the internet.
- Remind children to never give out personal information, including full name, home address, phone number or school, over the internet.
- Ensure children never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone that they have only ever chatted with on the internet.
- Let your children know they can tell parents or another responsible adult about any contact that makes them feel uncomfortable
More information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/
Additional information can be accessed via the eSafety website: https://www.esafety.gov.au/
The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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