While online social interactions with both known individuals and strangers can be enriching, offering different perspectives and experiences, unfortunately not everyone online behaves appropriately.

It is possible for individuals to be deceptive about their true identity. For example, adults can pretend to be young people and communicate with children online for sexual solicitation or grooming.
Sexual solicitation is where someone is asked to engage in a sexual conversation or activity or to send a sexually explicit image or information.

Online grooming of children is the illegal act of an adult or adults making online contact with a child under the age of 16 with the intention of facilitating a sexual relationship. More information is available from the AFP, which investigates suspected cases of online grooming.

Educating children and young people about the potential threats posed by others online will help them to protect themselves from unwanted online contact.

How can my school help manage the risks?

You can help your students manage the risks associated with unwanted sexual contact by:
  • Identifying vulnerable students, including those who take greater offline risks or behave inappropriately offline. These students should be referred to student support services, and be provided with connections to trusted and supportive staff at the schools.
  • Referring a student who has participated in a sexual relationship or is distressed by online contact to student support services. They should also be provided with options for psychological support including school counselling and anonymous counselling through phoning the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
  • Reporting to the AFP if a student reports making contact with an individual online who appears to be grooming them. The AFP investigates suspected cases of online grooming.

Where do I go for help?

In a life-threatening and time-critical situation call Triple Zero (000).

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Online Child Protection Unit

Children, as well as adults acting on behalf of children, can report abuse or illegal activity online by using the AFP’s online child sex exploitation form or by clicking on the ‘Report Abuse’ button on the ThinkUKnow or Virtual Global Taskforce website.

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