Keeping kids safe online during school holiday time

**Editor’s Note: For further information please contact Crime Stoppers Media Officer, Cecelia Haddad, [email protected] or phone 0487 333 000**

Crime Stoppers, NSW Police Force, eSafety Commissioner and the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation are joining forces this holiday season to raise awareness of the safety risks facing young people online.

The biggest school holiday time of the year is almost upon us and is an opportunity for kids to relax after the school year.  Unfortunately, it’s also an opportunity for sexual predators who know children will be spending more time online, potentially unsupervised.

Predators are increasingly gaining access to children online through popular apps, games, and social media sites to solicit sexual images or video, or harm them physically.

Crime Stoppers CEO, Mr Peter Price AM said, “The campaign will focus on the online space in two key areas.  Firstly, prepare parents and help them better manage their children’s online presence and safety. Secondly to educate teens around sextortion – how to avoid it and what to do if they fall victim to a predator. Crime Stoppers’ mandate is to help:  to stop, solve and prevent crime.”

“Today we are imploring parents to be even more attentive.  Protecting our most vulnerable is a priority. Young or old.  Just like criminals collaborate for the NO GOOD, what you see here is a collaboration for the PUBLIC GOOD”, added Mr Price.

According to the Mind the Gap Research* undertaken by eSafety, there are significant gaps in parents’ awareness.  The research showed 55% of children communicated with someone they first met online yet only 34% of parents were aware.  In the 14-17 year age group 62% were exposed to negative online content yet only 43% of their parents were aware.  This content included gory or violent material, drug taking, hate messages, self-harm, ways to take their own life and violent sexual images or videos with 11% of 14-17 years olds being asked by someone online to send sexual images of themselves.

Information to help parents and teens is readily available but many don’t know where to go to get help. The campaign will assist parents and teens on where to go to find out how they can minimise their risk and what to do if inappropriate online contact, sexual abuse material or sextortion occurs.

The internet can create a range of safety challenges for children online.  Our message to parents is not everyone your child meets online is who they say they are.  As a parent there are signs you can watch for like your child becomes vague or secretive about what they’re doing online, they become quieter or more withdrawn, they avoid their phone or other devices and seem anxious when near them.

Communication and education are so important when it comes to online predators. From an early age you can let your child know if anyone asks for a photo of them without clothes on, they should tell you straight away so you can help them.

“Just as we put helmets on our kids to ride a bike, we need to keep them safe when they go online – whether they’re watching videos, gaming, or on social networking apps. This is especially true with virtual reality headsets and connected toys – which is why we have released an updated Tech Gift Guide this holiday season,” eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“The best way to prevent your child from being groomed is to be a regular, active participant in their online and offline lives. Set family rules together, including which devices and apps can be used, when and for how long.

“Ensure devices are used in open areas of the home, rather than in the bathroom or bedroom, so you’re generally aware of what they’re doing online. Most importantly, co-play and co-view, particularly through interactive online games with strangers.

“The vast majority of covert online grooming and sexual extortion our investigators see is happening behind closed doors, in what might be considered the ‘safety and sanctity’ of one’s home.”

Some of the red flags include suspicious accounts, asking personal questions, inconsistencies in the profile or language used and starting sexualised chat. Online safety is just another skill kids can learn and really need help from their parents to do it.

ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Helen Schneider said the holiday season was often very busy for parents and carers, and it was important to continue online safety conversations.

“With around 300 reports involving young people under 18 being received by the ACCCE each month, financial sextortion continues to be a significant safety threat for young people online, Commander Schneider said.

“This initiative is about equipping parents and carers with the tools, resources and support so they are empowered to have these important discussions to help keep their children safer online.”

Commander of the NSWPF State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad, Detective Superintendent Jayne Doherty, said parents can’t afford to ignore protecting their kids online.

“The internet is a place where children can learn, socialise and play – and something that is always going to be a part of their lives – which is why parents can’t turn away from it. The best protection for your child is you as the parent,” Det Supt Doherty said.

“My advice to all parents is make sure you are educated and well-armed with resources available at places such as ‘ThinkUKnow’. I also recommend having regular open and honest conversations with your child about what they’re up to online. The best thing you can do is ensure they feel safe coming to you if they have questions or concerns about people they are engaging with.

“Sex Crimes Squad investigators spend every day online uncovering offenders who use the internet to groom children, and while we will not rest in the pursuit of any alleged sex offenders, we can’t fight this problem alone and need the help of parents.

“Together we can make sure our children are educated and protected against online threats, so they can safely use the internet for all the positive and meaningful things it affords our children.”

In cases of sextortion, young people may be worried they will get into trouble and therefore won’t tell anyone what is happening.  Police are here to protect children from online sexual exploitation.  You will not be in trouble from the police and they will not blame or criticise you for being a victim.  Your report could also save further victims from harm.

Understanding the tactics these predators use is the first step in protecting yourself.  We ask teens to please seek help as soon as possible and know that with help, they can make it stop.  If you are under 18 and being blackmailed online the best way to get help is to report it to the ACCCE who have a range of specialised resources available to specifically investigate this type of offending.  The sooner it is reported, the sooner we can help.

The number one step for parents and carers is to provide a safe space for their child or teen, so they know they will not be in trouble for seeking help.

In sextortion cases, the high-pressure tactics used by criminals rely on parents and carers reacting with anger or shame to what has happened. This can be a barrier to young people seeking help so it’s important to make sure your child knows they can come to you, and they will be supported, no matter what.

If it does happen there are three key steps:

  1. Collect Evidence – screenshots or photos of the conversation. Record social media details such as profiles, usernames and URLs.
  2. Block – block the user and consider changing your information including your password.
  3. Report – report it as soon as possible to ACCCE.

No information is too small or insignificant.  Something that may appear that way could be vital to a police investigation.

If you’re 18 or older and being blackmailed, report it to any platforms or services where the blackmailer contacted you. If your intimate image or video is shared you can report to eSafety to have it removed.  eSafety has tips to help you deal with sexual extortion.

Everyone has a role to play in combatting predatory behaviour online.  We are asking the community to be vigilant online. If you see or suspect something related to online child sexual abuse it should be reported immediately so action can be taken.

Helpful Links:

Prevention Advice



Crime Stoppers NSW – Keeping kids safe online – for tips and how to report find out more HERE

Where to report online child sexual exploitation

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

*Source: eSafety Commissioner – Online survey of 3,590 children in Australia aged 8–17 and their parents, conducted July–September 2021. Data relates to the 12 months to July–September 2021.




Media Information, interview and queries can be directed to Crime Stoppers Media Officer, Cecelia Haddad, [email protected] or phone 0487 333 000

Media information and visuals can be downloaded from Google Drive HERE

About the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) has primary responsibility for investigating and preventing online sexual exploitation of children and young people, including sexual extortion.

The ACCCE brings together a world-leading approach, incorporating key stakeholders and partners, and driving a collective effort to counter the epidemic of child exploitation.

About the eSafety Commissioner

The eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) is Australia’s independent regulator for online safety. It educates Australians about online safety risks and helps to remove harmful content such as cyberbullying of children and young people, adult cyber abuse, revenge porn or image-based abuse and illegal and restricted content. Visit to find out more on how to stay safe online and report online abuse.