“What really really shocks me, scares me as a parent, is what I’ve been learning about these new threats to children’s safety.” – Akhim Dev
Child exploitation is a silent epidemic – and it’s coming for our kids. The Children In The Pictures is an 8 part podcast series which follows the Queensland Police investigation of a notorious child exploitation website. Host Akhim Dev, an Australian documentary-maker and parent, shares what we can do to protect our children online.
It can be easy to let yourself think that these things only happen to other people’s children. However, the internet is radically amplifying the challenges of childhood for everyone, and it’s crucial for parents to be alert and prepared. So how can we protect children online?
Make Sure Your Child Is Watching Age Appropriate Content
Dr Sharon Cooper, former military officer and developmental and forensic paediatrician, says it’s important to let children be children, to enjoy child-like content and games, and to limit their exposure to sexualised content.
“Children learn a lot of their behaviours from the internet, and so they will try and depict themselves as older and more worldly, even when they’re not”
Studies show that girls today are associating their value with their sexuality more than any other qualities they may possess:
If kids start seeing their value as sexual objects from a young age, they’re more likely to be vulnerable to predators trying to groom them.
Recognise That Sexting Is Normal
In this digital age, sexting is a normalised behaviour for young people and is seen as almost a rite of passage, like teen drinking. If we acknowledge its inevitability in this way we realise that the most important thing we can do as parents is have ‘the talk’, a dialogue with our children about how to be safe if they decide to do it.
This helps create an environment where the child should feel comfortable to talk about it, any similar interactions they might having on the internet, and reach out for help if they need it when something goes wrong. Because often, blackmailing from predators online can occur and escalate because children feel that there’s no one to talk to about it or get guidance from.
Adèle Desirs, from INTERPOL’S Crimes Against Children Unit in France, explains that open conversations are key to prevention and protection:
“Probably the most effective prevention we can do as a care-giver is on that side, monitoring technology access and have these conversations with children that this may happen, and if it happens, you need to talk to me immediately”
Listen to the rest of Episode 08: The Hope and the Good, for more important tips from experts for parents and caregivers:
Catch up on all 8 episodes of ‘The Children In The Pictures’ on the LiSTNR app or your favourite podcast platform.
CONTENT WARNING: This podcast deals with confronting issues involving abuse against children. Listener discretion is advised. The names and details of some people mentioned in the podcast have changed so as to not compromise any ongoing Argos investigations.
This podcast is dedicated to all victims and survivors of sexual crimes against children and those that stand against the sexual exploitation of children.
If you know a child in immediate danger, please contact police – call 000.
For non-urgent police assistance, contact 131 444
If you need immediate support, contact The Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14
For more information and help go to childreninthepictures.org
Or head over to the ACCCE site- the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation accce.gov.au
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