AFP, eSafety Team Up for Online Safety at School Reopening

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and the eSafety Commissioner

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) are calling on parents, carers and educators to start the new school year by having important conversations with children about online safety.

Market research commissioned by the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), indicates that just three per cent of parents and carers listed online grooming as a concern. More than half did not know what they could do to keep children safe from online child sexual exploitation.

Research conducted by eSafety found that close to half of the children surveyed were treated in a hurtful or nasty way online in the past year and exposure to negative online content and sexual content is prevalent among young people aged 14 to 17 years.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Hilda Sirec said with many children being provided an electronic device for the first time ahead of the new school year, it was an important time to establish positive online behaviours and to implement proactive strategies to keep them safe.

“The back to school period is an important milestone and often very busy for parents and carers, however it’s important to always pay attention to what your children are doing online,” acting Assistant Commissioner Sirec said.

“Parental and carer supervision for young children can be a critical factor in preventing self-produced child exploitation material and online grooming.

“Open communication with children from an early age, and continuing the conversation throughout all developmental stages is vital in keeping them safe.”

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said establishing firm ground rules right from the start helped children develop the right skills and habits.

“As soon as we hand a child a device, we should be talking to them about the dos and don’ts of the online world, while still letting them know they will be supported if anything goes wrong,” she said.

“Make sure your children only use devices in open areas of the home and use in-app tools such as parental controls to block inappropriate content and manage their screen time. Activate privacy settings to limit unwanted contact and help your child learn how to block and report people online.

“There is no substitute for taking an interest in a child’s online lives from an early age. As well as supporting communication, this will help you understand the apps they are using and any risks they may face.

“You can find lots of information advice at eSafety.gov.au and, of course, report any suspicious interactions to ACCCE as soon as possible.”

The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.

eSafety is Australia’s independent regulator for online safety, designed to help safeguard all Australians from online harms and to promote safer, more positive online experiences.

Together, the ACCCE and eSafety protect children online through research, education and intervention.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

The ACCCE and eSafety work to keep children safer online and have developed a range of educational resources for parents, carers and educators.

Gaming, devices and what you need to know: This guide includes advice for parents and carers when choosing and setting up new devices for your family.

https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-11/Gaming%2C%20devices%20and%20what%20you%20need%20to%20know%20-%202022%20holidays.pdf

Social media starter kit: This social media starter kit is for parents and carers when their child is beginning to sign up to social media apps and sites. https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2022-02/ThinkUKnow%20social%20media%20starter%20kit_1.pdf

Fact sheet on preventing online child sexual exploitation: This fact sheet includes information for parents and carers about taking action and how to get help. https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/Fact%20sheet%20Preventing%20online%20child%20sexual%20exploitation_0.pdf

Family online safety contract: Developed in collaboration with the Carly Ryan Foundation, this agreement can help parents and carers manage their family’s internet use.

https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/Family%20online%20safety%20contract%20%28blank%29.pdf

https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-10/Family%20online%20safety%20contract%20%28prefilled%29.pdf

Advice for parents and carers to help kids stay safe online, including information on those hard to have conversations about issues like sexting, and online pornography. There’s information on grooming, cyberbullying, online gaming, screen time, and the use of parental controls. Parents | eSafety Commissioner

Our eSafety Guide helps parents and carers learn about the latest games, apps and social media, including how to protect your child’s information and report harmful content. The eSafety Guide | eSafety Commissioner

Our eSafety Toolkit for Schools is designed to support schools to create safer online environments. The resources are backed by evidence and support a nationally consistent approach to preventing and responding to online safety issues. Toolkit for Schools | eSafety Commissioner

TIPS FOR PARENTS AND CARERS:

Have open conversations, often – start talking to your child regularly about their online activities and interactions.

Supervision is essential – this means knowing what your child is doing online, who they are interacting with and what platforms, apps or games they are using.

Be approachable if your child needs help – Coming forward isn’t always easy and your child may feel reluctant to tell you about online issues if they believe they will be punished or have their devices taken away. This also makes children more secretive about device use and at greater risk of exploitation.

Check privacy settings – We recommended that you research and understand app settings, including privacy settings. This could include turning off location settings, setting profiles to private, or turning off chat functions.

Know how to report – If something goes wrong online, it is critical your child is supported. You need to know how to take action and report.

Further advice is available via the ACCCE and eSafety websites.

HOW TO REPORT:

  • If you believe a child is in imminent danger, call police Triple Zero (000) or visit your local police station.
  • Information about people involved in online child sexual abuse are urged to contact the ACCCE at www.accce.gov.au/report.
  • Complaints about cyberbullying, adult cyber abuse, image-based abuse or illegal and restricted online content can be reported at www.esafety.gov.au/report. 

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.