Jen Hoey, the founder of advocacy organisation Not My Kid, described the harrowing details of online child exploitation and gaps in child safety laws as “chilling” while speaking at a parliamentary inquiry. She revealed her nine-year-old daughter was groomed online and it took her two years to disclose the incident because the perpetrator threatened her with arrest. Hoey noted her daughter developed separation anxiety, self-blame, and shame following the disclosure.
Hoey proposed the need for a hotline for people under 18 to contact without fear of punishment, and better education for local authorities on the issue. She also shared the story of a 12-year-old girl who was harassed by an online predator on Snapchat for over a year, even after she blocked him. When the girl went to the police, she was told she did not need to make a report. Hoey believes this is evidence of how local police are not always equipped to deal with these issues, and further training should be considered.
It was also revealed that Twitter has no Australian staff the regulator can get in contact with when complaints are made about such material. Elon Musk has said Twitter’s first priority is cracking down on child exploitation on the platform. The eSafety commission said a local point of contact is effective and vital for keeping children safe online. Microsoft revealed it took two days to respond to child exploitation complaints, including live streaming on Skype, which Senator David Shoebridge described as “highly alarming.” Shoebridge also called on the government to patch up legal gaps allowing convicted pedophiles to hide their wealth and assets in their superannuation to avoid paying their victims’ compensation.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, please reach out to one of the following services:
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
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