Police are urging parents to be mindful of the dangers to children of the internet following the charging of a man in Lismore over the alleged online grooming of a number of teenage boys in the northern rivers.
The 23-year-old man allegedly created a number of fake accounts on social networking sites, assuming the identities of females, then used the accounts to make contact with a number of boys aged 12–15.
Police allege the man then coerced them into sending him nude or sexually explicit photos of themselves.
Last May, detectives from Richmond Local Area Command established Strike Force Benlin, and with officers from the Child Exploitation Internet Unit began an investigation into online grooming by the man.
The man on Wednesday morning attended Lismore police station where he arrested by police and charged with a total of 22 offences including using a carriage service to groom person under 16 years of age and using it for child pornography material.
He was granted strict conditional bail to appear in Lismore Local Court on 5 May.
Investigations by the strike force are continuing with further charges expected to be laid.
Anyone with information about internet predators should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://www1.police.nsw.gov.au/.
Safe internet use, tips for parents:
• Be aware of how much time your child spends on the internet.
• Spend time talking to your child about the dangers associated with online conversations.
• Spend time exploring the internet with your children and let them teach you about their favourite websites.
• Keep the computer in a room the whole family can access; not in your child’s bedroom.
• Consider installing filtering and/or computer-blocking software provided by your internet service provider. The Netalert web page provides information on a number of commercially available products at www.netalert.net.au.
• Ensure you are able to access your child’s email and randomly check the contents.
• Check your phone bill for unusual outgoing calls, or consider using a caller-ID device to identify incoming calls.
• Consult your telephone company for options designed to ensure privacy and security.
• Enquire with your child’s school, public library, and places they frequent, to find out what internet safety measures they have in place.
• Information on internet safety is available on the NSW Police website at: http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/community_issues/children/child_exploitation.
Tips for children:
• Do not send a picture of yourself to anyone you don’t know and never place a full profile and picture anywhere on the internet.
• Never give out your personal information, including name, home address, phone number or school, over the internet.
• Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you have chatted with on the internet.
• Tell your parents or another adult you know of any contact that makes you feel uncomfortable.
• Remember that pressing ‘send’ is definite and final – you can’t get it back or take it down.