26 September 2023

ACT parents warned boys targeted by evil

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Parents and carers across the country are being warned about a spike in the number of Australian boys being preyed on by international sex offenders.

Issuing the warning, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) led an Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) saying it was taking the unusual step of releasing police intelligence to warn parents and carers of the emerging risk.

ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Hilda Sirec said international sex offenders were grooming Australian boys into producing explicit images and then extorting them for money.

“These reports involving boys have more than quadrupled between mid-2021 and this year, driven by a sharp rise in offshore offenders targeting Australian boys for financial gain,” Commander Sirec said.

She said that while coercing and blackmailing minors for sexually-explicit videos and images was not new – it was previously very rare for police to receive reports about offenders demanding money from children.

“Tactics can vary, but child sex offenders commonly pose as girls and befriend boys via social media platforms, image-sharing apps or online games,” Commander Sirec said.

She said authorities were issuing the warning to urge victims to seek help and report the crime, and to assure victims that they would not be in trouble for coming forward.

“These offenders are very manipulative and they will threaten and frighten children to get what they want, including telling victims they will be in trouble with law enforcement if they speak up,” the Commander said.

“We are appealing to parents and carers to talk to their children about online safety, how to recognise suspicious behaviour online and speak out if they have been targeted,” she said.

“If your child is or has been a victim, reassure them that it’s not their fault and that there is help available.”

Commander Sirec said the AFP’s ThinkUKnow program had developed a new resource for young people on how to recognise and respond to this method of sexual extortion.

She said the Online blackmail and sexual extortion response kit included key indicators that an online interaction may be a sign of sexual extortion as well as information on how to get help and support.

The ThinkYouKnow four-page resource kit for young people can be downloaded at this PS News link.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit www.accce.gov.au/support to learn more.

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