The Federal Police Warn Parents That Children Are At Risk When Using The Internet

, The Federal Police Warn Parents That Children Are At Risk When Using The Internet

The Federal Police Warn Parents That Children Are At Risk When Using The Internet

The internet is a connective platform that allows people from all over the world to communicate with each other. Some of the most popular sites used on the internet include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Youtube, etc. With the increased number of parents having to work from home with their child, many are desperate for ways to keep their child quiet so they can focus. Many mothers and fathers have sought any available remedy that would enable them to do their work in peace, including some who have given their child a free pass to use a computer, Ipad or phone.

The issue with allowing your child a free pass to use a device with an internet connecting capability is that it exposes your child to internet risks. You see, the internet allows people to disguise themselves with a screen. People can use fake identities to gain the trust of a child before eventually exploiting them. A child would never suspect the person on the other end is for example a 40 year old person. If the person is telling them they are a 15 year old called Tim, a child will believe that. Children are naïve and we love that about them, but we need to be proactive in ensuring they know how to use the internet safely.

HOW AT RISK IS YOUR CHILD?

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is warning parents to be vigilant in keeping their kids safe online. Investigators are finding sex offenders infiltrating new spaces such as online gaming to trade messages with children under the guise of being another like-minded enthusiast.

Statistically Australian victims or offenders were the subject of more than 17,000 individual reports in 2019 ranging from online grooming to transmitting or receiving explicit images, according to data released by the AFP. Ms Simoncini said this was up from about 1000 cases in 2009.

Results from a survey by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation released as part of a launch of the ThinkUKnow child safety program, show many parents are still unaware of online risks to their children. Of more than 3000 people surveyed, only 3 per cent listed online grooming as a concern, while only half made the effort to discuss online safety with their children.

WHAT IS THE OFFENCE OF CHILD GROOMING?

It is an offence to use a carriage service to “groom” persons under 16 years of age pursuant to section 474.27 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)(‘Act’, here, thereafter):

(1)  A person (the sender) commits an offence if:

  1. the sender uses a carriage service to transmit a communication to another person (the recipient); and
  2. the sender does this with the intention of making it easier to procure the recipient to engage in sexual activity with the sender; and
  3. the recipient is someone who is, or who the sender believes to be, under 16 years of age; and
  4. the sender is at least 18 years of age.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 15 years.

NEW SOUTH WALES CHILD GROOMING CASE – SENSITIVE CONTENT

In the case of Rampley v R [2010] NSWCCA 293 Mr Rampley pleaded guilty in the Local Court to one charge contrary to s 474.27(1) of the Act.

The applicant was sentenced in the District Court to imprisonment for a term of 2 years and 9 months and ordered to be released under a recognisance release order after serving a period of 1 year and 6 months. The sentencing judge allowed a 25% reduction in the sentence because of the early plea of guilty.

His appeal to the District Court of Appeal was rejected and the sentence remained the same.

The relevant facts were agreed between the applicant and the prosecution and were recorded by the sentencing judge. They were as follows:

Between Thursday 19 June 2007 and Thursday 4 October 2007 online communications via the Internet took place between the accused, Warwick Martin Rampley, and an investigator from the Cyber Predator Team, Western Australian Police. Throughout the conversations the investigator was using the assumed online identity of a 12 year old female named Jessica Johnson of East Victoria Park, Western Australia.

These communications took place in Messenger.  During the online communications Mr Rampley was sexually explicit with the assumed identity, grooming ‘her for’ sexual activity with him. Mr Rampley was made aware on several occasions that the assumed identity was a 12 year old girl; additionally he was provided with a picture of the assumed identity that was clearly corroborative of this profile.

CONCLUSION

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