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Keeping Your Children Safe Online: Pic Pressures, Porn and Predators

8 сент 2021

Извините, этот техт доступен только в “Американский Английский”. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

National Child Protection Week

I have invited friend and colleague from the community, Melinda Tankard Reist, to contribute to our blogs as part of National Child Protection Week. Amongst the breadth of her work, you will also find her in schools, educating young people and parents on the harms of a sexualised culture and presenting a better way ahead.

Donna Crouch

  

Trigger warning: this article discusses themes of online abuse and pornography

Since COVID lockdowns and higher internet usage, more children have been exposed to explicit imagery, pressured to send sexual pics and made vulnerable to approaches from online predators whose activity has increased over the last year.

Yet according to the Australian Centre for Child Exploitation, only 21% of parents/carers thought that online child sexual exploitation could happen to their child

Most days a parent contacts me to share the devastation and trauma caused as a result of their child being exposed to explicit on-line content or grooming by an on-line predator. These experiences are more common than many like to think. Examples include:

My 6-year-old son was shown porn by an older boy at school.”

My child googled an innocent word and it took him straight to a porn site.”

My 7-year-old saw porn at the school camp.”

“My yr 7 daughter was sent pics of genitalia by a boy in her class”

My 11-year-old daughter was contacted by a man through Instagram threatening to hurt her and her family if she didn’t send nude pics.”

“My 9-year-old daughter was groomed in the chat room on her favourite computer game”. (“I called the police and asked them if they publish on their webpage a list of games that predators were known to frequent. They responded with, “No – predators are on all the games”).

Too many parents think ‘It wouldn’t happen to my kid’. Until it does.

Parents need all the help they can get right now.

A woman created an online identity as a social experiment to discover online behaviours.[1] This 37-year old woman used costume, makeup and tech to become 11-year-old ‘Bailey’, a fictitious on-line persona. She and her team sat in a room for hours, responding to messages and requests from strangers.

Her experience, reveals the risks faced by kids on-line:

By the end of two-and-a-half hours, I’ve had seven video calls, ignored another two dozen of them, text-chatted with 17 men (some who had messaged her before, gearing back up in hopes for more interaction), and seen the genitalia of 11 of those. I’ve also fielded (and subsequently denied) multiple requests for above-the-waist nudity (in spite of being clear that Bailey’s breasts have not yet developed) and below-the-waist nudity… Over the course of one week, over 52 men reached out to an 11-year-old girl.”

We have to face it: if our child is on-line, on any platform, they are at risk. If you hand your child an internet-enabled device, you are handing them a time-bomb.

You might think I’m exaggerating. But I have met too many parents who know the truth because they’ve lived it. Their children now suffer insomnia, nightmares, anxiety. In the worst cases, they are medicated due to the level of disturbance caused by exposure to violent porn or grooming and manipulation by predators. On the internet it is common to masquerade as young people of similar age to gain anothers’ trust.

Growing numbers of children have been the victim of other children acting out on them sexually, imitating what they have seen on-line. It surprises many parents to learn there are no proof-of-age protections to stop kids entering violent porn sites The eSafety Commission are working on seeing greater protections made to prevent this access by children.

There are great resources available for you – the parent/guardian – to protect your child or teenager:

The eSafety Commissioner:

This is the starting point for all online education, help and support. The Commission’s purpose is to protect and prevent online abuse and keep the internet a place of safety. Sign up for their newsletters; get familiar with broad range of resources and videos available for parents, kids, young people, women, seniors, diverse groups and educators. esafety.gov.au

Download their e.book on on-line safety during COVID-19
esafety.gov.au/key-issues/covid-19/advice-parents-carers

Online safety for Under 5’s:
esafety.gov.au/parents/children-under-5/online-safety-under-5s-booklet

Protecting kids from unwanted contact and grooming:
esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/unwanted-contact

If your child is a victim of non-consensual sharing of images – the ESafety Commissioner is there to help you. Contact them:
esafety.gov.au/key-issues/image-based-abuse/take-action/report-to-esafety-commissioner

Cyberbullying: If a child under 18 is being seriously threatened, intimidated, harassed or humiliated – make a direct complaint to the eSafety Commissioner via their website:
esafety.gov.au/report/cyberbullying

As a parent, you can protect your child by:

  • Staying involved
  • Build an open trusting relationship
  • Help your child protect their privacy –
  • Teach them to be alert to signs of inappropriate contact

How to deal with unwanted contact:

  • Make their accounts private
  • Report and block any unwanted contact
  • Delete all requests from strangers

What to do if something goes wrong:

  • Stay calm and reassure your child they are not in trouble
  • Act to protect your child
  • Collect evidence
  • Report

Additional Resources:

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation: access support, stop the stigma and report inappropriate behaviour towards children online
accce.gov.au

Education program run by Australian Federal Police: advice, resources for parents, teachers and students.
thinkuknow.org.au

NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect):

Resources and education. Sign up for newsletter

napcan.org.au/napcan-brochures/

Recommended Books:

How to Talk to your Kids about Porn, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures and Raising Resilient Kids(Available here at reduced rate of $50 + p&h)

These books equip your kids with the skills if/when they see explicit imagery. They are practical, easy-to-read and have lots of tips.

At Collective Shout we constantly monitor and report the behaviour of on-line predators. Our vision is to see a world that is free of sexploitation, where the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls is “unthinkable”.

 

Melinda Tankard Reist

Melinda is an author, speaker and Movement Director of Collective Shout. You can engage in campaigns to address the sexualisation of children and protect them from porn. collectiveshout.org

 

The views, opinions and content listed in this blog post are that of the guest contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Hillsong Church.