ONLINE CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION - EXPLANATION & MYTHS
The past few days, weeks and months have bought to light multiple cases of online child sexual exploitation on the Sunshine Coast, with 2 of the men most recently arrested both teaching at private schools on the Sunshine Coast.
It seems like some sort of horrific shadow pandemic, plaguing the deep dark web behind our backs, and featuring innocent photographs of our very own children. So lets get to the bottom of this concerning issue, and dispel some of the common myths. Because one child is too many, both online AND offline.
WHAT IS IT?
Online child sexual exploitation is the use of technology or the internet to facilitate the sexual abuse of a child, including the production and sharing of child sexual abuse material online.
It’s important to know behind every image or video there is a real child victim being sexually exploited. Regardless of the age of the child, if they are using a device that has access to the internet, they need to be aware of what is acceptable behaviour online and what isn’t.
Online child sexual exploitation includes a wide range of behaviours and situations. Most commonly this includes grooming, live streaming, consuming child sexual abuse material, and coercing and blackmailing children for sexual purposes. This could include:
• An adult engaging a child in a chat about sexual acts
• An adult sending nude or pornographic images of themselves to a child or exposing themselves via live streaming
• Asking a child to view pornographic images/videos
• Asking a child to perform sexual acts, expose themselves or share a sexual image
• Taking or making and sharing or showing indecent images of children
Online child sexual exploitation is a complex issue. There are many myths about the topic, and it’s critical to get the facts right. Here are 12 common myths we see all the time at COBRA Self Defence:
Myth #1: Online child sex offenders are ‘strangers’ to victims
Reality #1: Online child sex offenders can be known to the victim, such as a family friend or relative
Myth #2: My child is primary school-aged, so are not at risk
Reality #2: Online child sexual offenders do not discriminate against age
Myth #3: Only females are at risk of online child sexual exploitation
Reality #3: Anyone under the age of 18 can be a victim of online child sexual exploitation
Myth #4: Online child sex offenders are always older males
Reality #4: Online Child sex offenders can be any age, male or female and come from any background
Myth #5: Online child sexual exploitation and child sex abuse doesn’t happen in Australia
Reality #5: Australian law enforcement continue to disrupt online child sex offender networks in Australia
Myth #6: Parental controls and privacy settings are enough to keep children and young people safe online
Reality #6: To ensure online safety, multiple strategies are needed, including open and honest conversations with children and young people
Myth #7: Children's games (on gaming consoles or apps) are always safer
Reality #7: Any site, game, app or platform with a chat function can be used by online child sex offenders
Myth #8: Just viewing online child sexual exploitation and abuse material isn’t causing any harm
Reality #8: Viewing such material continues the cycle of harm for victims and creates a market to produce more material
Myth #9: Online child sexual exploitation isn’t as important as safety in the physical world
Reality #9: Exploitation has offline impacts
Myth #10: Children in smaller or more isolated towns are safer from offenders
Reality #10: Victims of online child sexual exploitation can be located anywhere
Myth #11: I would have time to notice the signs if my child was being groomed online
Reality #11: It can take only minutes for online child sex offenders to gain trust and form ‘friendships’ with a potential victim
Myth #12: Online child sexual exploitation and abuse won’t happen to my child
Reality #12: Online child sexual exploitation and abuse can happen to anyone under 18 years and offenders are skilled in exploiting vulnerabilities
We hope this information was helpful. If it was, please help your fellow family and friends by sharing this post. Because a safer world for them is a safer world for you and for us all.