ACCCE analysts are seeing more children being sexually exploited online through secretive screen recording tactics and are urging communities to work together to address the problem.
Capping is when the offender takes a screen recording without the knowledge of the victim. The offender may then use the images or videos to blackmail the victim to comply with their demands. These demands may be for money or more images.
Argos Victim Identification Analyst Scott Anderson said if children are using messaging or social media platforms, there is a chance they will be exposed to communication from online child sex offenders.
“This type of offending is more prevalent than people want to admit. The exploitation of children online is getting worse” he said. Mr Anderson works within the ACCCE as a representative of Queensland Police.
“Offenders are taking advantage of the fact children are online and safeguards are not in place to protect them on platforms they are accessing,” he said.
“Online child sex offenders find it easy to target children, exploit them and screen capture the exploitation, which can sometimes lead to more severe types of exploitation, including sextortion or blackmail for more images or financial gain.”
“We would encourage more conversations about this crime type either on the platforms that the children are using or within communities.
“Every child, parent and guardian needs proper awareness and education on the dangers of online exploitation and importantly, what action to take once a child becomes a target of sextortion. Every child that is exploited has been manipulated or coerced and is a victim, and therefore should be treated as such.”
“We say it often, law enforcement alone cannot combat this crime, it takes an entire village,” Mr Anderson said.
“There are four main pillars of the community that are required to adequately protect children; law enforcement, the education/engagement sector, the legislative sector, and the technology and social media companies. If any one of them fails to provide adequate protections, the whole system fails our children, and they will continue to be at risk.”
What you need to know
Mr Anderson said there are several actions parents, caregivers and those working with children can take to ensure children are safer online.
“Technology takes away protective physical elements we put in place for our children and some devices or programs/apps are not created with protection in mind.”
Parents and carers can help keep their children safe online by:
encouraging critical thinking and questioning suspicious behaviour. Suspicious behaviour might include unsolicited friend requests; asking lots of personal questions; asking for images; suggesting the conversation move to a different app.
recognising not everyone online is who they say they are. There is a difference between people children have met face-to-face, and people they have only met online. It can be hard to prove someone’s identity online because they might only create an identity to groom them.
being approachable if your child needs help. Coming forward isn’t always easy, and children may feel reluctant to admit online issues if they believe they will be punished or have their devices taken away.
seeking help and support for your child if they are a victim. Reports of online child sexual exploitation can be made to www.accce.gov.au/report. A list of support services can be found on both the ACCCE and ThinkUKnow websites.
The AFP’s ThinkUKnow program has a range of resources for families and children about internet safety. These are available at thinkuknow.org.au/resources and include a Family Online Safety Contract, which ACCCE recommends every family to use. It is a signed agreement between parents/carers and their child that sets boundaries and expectations for your child’s online behaviors.
ThinkUKnow and the ACCCE recently launched the children’s book Jack Changes the Game to help parents, carers and teachers start important conversations with children about online safety. The book is for five-to-eight year-olds, and comes with learning activities and teacher toolkits to help reinforce safety messages. We urge parents to read the e-book with their kids, available at thinkuknow.org.au/resources.