Region put on cyber safety alert
SCHOOLS, police and government departments have stepped up their efforts to warn children and parents about the dangers of cyberspace.
While the personal computer and internet have brought the world into our homes, it has also invited more trouble than anyone anticipated, Officer in Charge of Gympie’s Child Protection Unit Detective Sergeant Andrew Bailey said.
He said the explosion of social networking sites and chatrooms, combined with new mobile phone technologies, had amplified the risks of children becoming victims of online crimes.
But sex and predatory adults are not the biggest dangers teenagers face online.
Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats our youth are facing; online, via mobile phones, and in the school yard. And with parents, laws and governments struggling to catch up, online crime is becoming more difficult to police.
Det Sgt Bailey said cyber crimes were increasing as the internet became more prevalent in the community and easier to use.
“We are encountering problems these days that we never had 10 to 15 years ago,” he said, adding that Gympie police were delivering educational talks about cyber safety to schools in the region.
POSTING fights on YouTube and flirting with strangers on webcams were some of the online activities putting young internet users at risk, Det Sgt Andrew Bailey said.
As part of the Queensland Police Service Who’s Chatting to your Kids program, police in Gympie have been talking to children and parents at schools about practicing safe online behaviour to minimise exposure to online risks.
The aim is to get children and their parents thinking about who they are really chatting to online, what personal information they are posting and whether or not their computer is protected from scams and spyware.
Det Sgt Bailey said anyone found to have sent threatening or bullying emails, texts or images would be dealt with under the Commonwealth Criminal Code legislation and charged with using a carrier service to frighten, annoy or harrass.
“Once we receive a complaint, we will obtain a search warrant and seize computers to send down to the Forensic Computer Examination Unit for an examination of the hard drives. Evidence will be retrieved from computers to put before a court. This is an issue that relates to mobile phones as well.”
Det Sgt Bailey said victims of cyber bullying should contact the internet or mobile service providers to ask for malicious contentto be removed immediately.
A recent survey of parents conducted for the Australia Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy found a significant increase in the rate of cyber crime against Australian children aged 13 to 17.
Young internet users are being encouraged to share their online experiences in an online survey, being conducted by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Cyber Safety.
There are two surveys, one is for younger children up to age 12, and the second is for 13 to 18 year olds. Both surveys are anonymous and easy to complete. The survey should be completed by Wednesday April 27 and can be accessed at www.aph.gov.au/cybersafety.