The AFP ThinkUKnow program in partnership with the AFP-led ACCCE launched a new children’s picture book to stakeholders in October.
The book Jack Changes the Game has been developed to support parents, carers and teachers in discussing some issues around online safety. It is a first-of-its-kind for law enforcement, based on a report made to the ACCCE. It gives an insight with age-appropriate advice about online grooming and how parents can take action if something goes wrong.
ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Hilda Sirec said raising awareness and educating the community about online child sexual exploitation is central to protecting children from harm.
“It is my hope that this book starts conversations across Australia about recognising the signs of online grooming, how to get help, and making a report to police. And from those conversations we can start to destigmatise this crime type and work together as a community to help protect children online.”
“Through December the book is being distributed to every primary school in Australia. I would like to acknowledge the important role educators play in helping our children learn about being safe.
Written by notable children’s author Tess Rowley and illustrated by Shannon Horsfall, Jack Changes the Game takes a child’s perspective to online grooming, the challenges they face and why it’s important to talk to a trusted adult if they encounter any problems online.
Research undertaken by the ACCCE showed that only 52 per cent of adults openly talk to their children about online safety.
To ensure the book is age-appropriate and evidence-based, a reference group was engaged to provide subject matter expertise and guidance. The group comprised Dr Andrea Baldwin, Professor Susan Edwards, Kelly Humphries and Professor Kerryann Walsh.
“I would like to recognise and show my appreciation for the valuable contribution of the reference group which was formed to provide subject matter expertise and guidance to the project,” Commander Sirec said.
Kelly Humphries, a survivor of child sexual abuse, author and advocate was a member of the reference group and spoke at the launch.
“Jack Changes the Game targets five- to eight-year-olds, a key age in preventing and protecting our kids from harm, a key intervention strategy. This is a tool, a conversation starter, an ice breaker when you hate talking about hard stuff with your kids.
“We still have a long way to go when it comes to changing our culture around normalising tough conversations. It is why Jack Changes the Game is a game changer. It is an opportunity. A vessel for parents, teachers, caregivers, or anyone to have these tough conversations through a non-confrontational, relatable medium.
“The book is empowering children to speak up, to liken themselves to ‘Jack’ and know that they can ‘change the game’ not only for themselves but by supporting others as well… learning to speak up and where to go to for help is a universal skill. Having the knowledge, means having the power to prevent harm,” she said.
Jack Changes the Game forms part of a complete ThinkUKnow learning package that includes at home learning for parents and carers, a teacher's toolkit and student activity pack to reinforce key concepts from the book.
These resources and the Jack Changes the Game e-book are available at ThinkUKnow.org.au.