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Online child sexual abuse in Australia

Online Child Abuse Legislation

According to a 2021 poll, two out of three people in Australia reported experiencing sexual harm online before they turned 18, higher than in most other parts of the world. That said, Australia has always championed the issue of child safety. For example, it was one of the first countries to ratify the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Now Australia’s Online Safety Act 2021 has become an effective tool for preventing a range of online threats for children. The Australian Criminal Code criminalizes the production and distribution of child sexual abuse materials. Federal States & Territories also have their own legislation in this area:

  • The Children and Young Persons Act (2008),
  • the Child Care and Protection Act (2007),
  • the Crimes (Offenders Against Children) Act (2005) and
  • the Child Protection Act (1999), among others.

The objectives of these Acts are to improve and promote online safety for Australian children.

Online Safety

In such a situation, when the child and the offender do not know each other, the Internet can become a conduit that allows a potential offender to target a child who is powerless in an online context. Some seek sexual contact or material online, and others try to meet in person. Some use the Internet specifically to meet children in order to produce child sexual abuse materials, and others seek to purchase such materials for their own consumption.

Internet users frequently lie about their identities. Knowing who your kids are chatting with online is crucial. In an effort to build a relationship with a child online, adults may pose as someone they’re not. “Grooming” is the term for this.

Parents need to maintain a close connection with their children. Only in this way does it seem possible to recognize the dangers and risks of increased online child sexual abuse early on. After all, many children do not share the information they receive online with their parents. In addition, it is more likely that parents will not know who their child is communicating with online.

Parents and caregivers must know what they can do to stop problems from online challenges.

Online Child Sexual Offenders Language

The appearance of a suspicious adult in a child’s chat room or messages should immediately alert parents. If parents have access to their child’s online communications, it is essential to evaluate the content, motives, and intentions behind such communications.

Practice shows that during communication with the child, the offender tries to establish a close emotional connection. For example, sexual abuse is presented as romantic and advantageous to the victim. Such dialogue is a tactical manoeuvre aimed at satisfying the offender’s sexual desires.

Those who abuse children use manipulation to prevent children from talking to a parent or other trusted adult, family members, or friends. They may make the children feel unique and encourage them to keep their feelings, words, and actions a secret or push them to feel ashamed of what happened and tell them that they will get in trouble for their words or actions.

Online Child Sexual Exploitation

One of the most general forms of online child sexual abuse is online sexual exploitation of children.

What might it consist of? It can include:

  • Involving a child in a chat room about sexual acts
  • The perpetrator sending nude or pornographic images of themselves to a child
  • Asking a child to view pornographic photos or videos
  • Requests directed the child to perform sexual acts, take off his or her clothes, or share a sexual image
  • Creating, sharing, or showing indecent images of children in a sexual manner

At the same time, it is increasingly common for adults to receive requests to facilitate the sexual exploitation of children. For example, strangers online have asked adults about their experiences when someone:

  • Asked them to hand over photos of their children or pressured them to do so;
  • Invited to meet their children or other children they had access to;
  • Asked questions of a sexual nature about their children;
  • Offered to pay them for photos or videos of their children of a sexual nature.

You can report suspicious or illegal online behaviour to:

If a child is in the nearest danger of abuse or exploitation, you can call 000.

Other valuable links you can find here.

If your child is a survivor of online child sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, they first need to know that it is not their fault and that you fully support them.

And second, you should report improper or questionable behaviour online and ask for help and support.

Online child sex abuse survivors are frequently extremely young, and the trauma they experience is severe and long-lasting. To assist survivors in recovering from the abuse, they require legal, financial, and therapeutic support. No matter what, they should be able to receive compensation.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

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