Crime Stoppers partners with eSafety Commissioner to keep children safe online during COVID-19

Sharon Kelley 22 April 2020
Student seated at home using online tablet, family in background.

Crime Stoppers and the eSafety Commissioner are running a national campaign to keep children safe online. Photo: Supplied.

Parents and educators are being urged to visit the Crime Stoppers website for online resources to improve the safety of children and young people online while working or learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eSafety Commissioner and Crime Stoppers Australia have joined forces to deliver a national online safety campaign to raise awareness of the horrifying statistic that one in four Australian young people and children have been contacted by strangers online.

The e-Safety Commissioner’s Cyber Report Team made 12,000 regulatory investigations into online child sexual abuse and other abhorrent violent material online nationally throughout 2019.

Crime Stoppers Australia chair Diana Forrester said the national campaign has been designed to better educate people about the need to be on the lookout for – and prevent – child sexual abuse material and unwanted contact online.

“There is no doubt that child sexual abuse material is rife on the internet so it is more important than ever for parents and caregivers to be aware of the real and present dangers faced by children when they spend time online,” said Ms Forrester.

The education campaign provides fact sheets and other resources for parents, caregivers and young people to ensure safety online, and information on what to do if contacted by a stranger, or if you want to report distasteful online material or suspicious contact.

Mother and daughter embracing.

Australian statistics reveal that one in four young people and children have been contacted by strangers online. Photo: Supplied.

Reports about suspicious or criminal activity can be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers, which received 14,266 contacts from Canberrans last year, resulting in 3052 information reports, 32 arrests and 193 charges in the ACT.

The Office of the e-Safety Commissioner also investigates reports by members of the public about child sexual abuse material and an anonymous complaint can be registered with them here.

“What we are trying to get people to be aware of is online safety, particularly for their children,” said Ms Forrester.

“It’s likely that more Australians know about Crime Stoppers than about the e-Safety Commissioner website so we’ve worked together, using their expert knowledge and research to create fact sheets and other education material for our website. We’re driving awareness of where and what that is so parents who are teaching their kids at home can ensure they are safe and aware of what they can do to keep their children safe online.”

The fact sheets available on the Crime Stoppers website include information on adjusting security and privacy settings to minimise the chances of children being approached online. For older children or young adults, there are tips on what to avoid, what to look out for and how to report contact from strangers to relevant authorities.

“The second thing we want parents to do is if they know or suspect someone is producing, downloading or sharing child abuse material, we want them to report it,” said Ms Forrester.

While many Canberrans know the Crime Stoppers phone line (1800 333 000), which allows people to report what they know without saying who they are, not as many are aware that Crime Stoppers uses encryption for anonymous reporting online through the form on their website.

If you know of a crime or are aware of information that may lead to a crime, contact Crime Stoppers online or call on 1800 333 000.

If you know or suspect someone is producing, downloading or sharing child sexual abuse material, you can report it to Crime Stoppers online or call the number above, or contact the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner’s Cyber Safety Team.

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