Online Grooming

Online grooming occurs when an adult makes contact with someone under the age of 16 with the intention of sharing sexually explicit images, discussing sexual activity, and in many cases meeting in person for sexual purposes.  This type of victimisation occurs across all online platforms, gaming, social media messaging apps and chat rooms etc.

It’s important to note the offence occurs in the communication phase, so no physical contact needs to have taken place for a crime to have been committed (see Carly’s Law 2017 ).

Predators who seek to groom children may pretend to be younger than they are, often using fake profiles to gain a victim’s trust.  Offenders can access information about their targets through social media sites where some personal information is available, particularly if privacy settings are not enabled.   Personal information is then used by the predator to build a relationship with the victim – discussing ‘shared interests’ or liking their social media posts.

Young people can be overly trusting believing those who are nice online will be the same in the real world.  It’s important they understand not everyone online is who they say they are.

Defend children from online exploitation.

Sextortion

Sextortion happens when one person threatens to expose a sexual image in order to make another person do something.  It is a significant and growing threat to children within the online world and happening to children as young as four.

Predators use social media, online games and chat rooms to target children then blackmail them into performing nonconsensual sex acts on camera and/or producing sexually explicit images and videos.  All it takes is the child to send one photo.

The offender will then use these initial images to force the child victim into sending further, and often more explicit images.  Often the demands become more involved and humiliating and the child victim feels trapped, ashamed and too embarrassed to tell their friends or parents, complying with the blackmailers demands out of fear.

It can take just minutes from the first contact and the effects of this crime can be devastating for the child. These so-called ‘ self-produced’ images are now flooding the Dark Web at an alarming rate.

Support victims of child exploitation.

IF YOU OR A CHILD YOU KNOW IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL TRIPLE ZERO ON 000, CRIMESTOPPERS ON 1800 333 000 OR YOUR LOCAL POLICE.

For further information, including counselling services, or to make a report please click GET HELP.