Ahead of Australia’s biggest child protection challenge and the launch of its 20th annual White Balloon Day, Bravehearts has warned of increasing online risks for young people, following news about a pornographic ring targeting more than 70 high schools.
Bravehearts criminologist Carol Ronken, said the sharing of inappropriate images is a complete violation of the child’s privacy and personal safety and is urging young people and parents to be vigilant.
“Behind every image shared is another victim traumatised,” she said.
“Bravehearts urges young people and parents to be vigilant. There are a number of ways which offenders exploit children on-line. It can be as simple as misusing information that a child or young person gives them and they may send through to sending explicit or abusive messages or posting photos of the child or young person on other websites.”
Research shows that advances in online technologies continue to provide increased opportunities for child sex offenders, including for grooming victims, accessing child exploitation material and networking. Statistics on the number of children receiving on-line solicitations are alarming. In the US, the Department of Justice reported that one in five children who use the internet had been approached by a sex offender. Meanwhile, the UK Online Protection Centre reportedly receives 400 phone calls a month from young people who have been approached by a sex offender on the internet.
In 2015, Bravehearts launched Join The Dots, a scheme developed with the assistance of Qld Police Task Force Argos, to provide a safe, anonymous and official process by empowering young people to use their knowledge and skills to identify and report predatory behaviour to provide authorities with the information they need to help keep the online environment safe and to protect younger internet users.
The message behind Join the Dots is that you might think what happened was no big deal, that police can’t do anything or you might not want to get involved with the police, but sometimes the information you have is just one piece of a bigger picture and can help to protect other younger kids.
Bravehearts Founder and CEO Hetty Johnston AM, said Join the Dots was designed to provide a simple and anonymous avenue for young people to share what they are seeing and experiencing online, to ‘join the dots’ and to protect their younger siblings and peers against a crime that is increasing at the same rate as technology evolves.
“Join the Dots is a mechanism that empowers young people by giving them the confidence and tools to protect their cyber space from predators while creating a safer online environment for their peers and the next generation,” she said.
“By taking a lead on this they become the guardians of their domain. People should be able to use the internet without having to worry about the ‘creepers’ who troll through their space.”
Check out Join The Dots HERE