Predators' chatroom trap for teens
Source: The Australian
By Kathryn Shine
Date: July 31, 2003
PEDOPHILES are increasingly using the internet to target children, police warned yesterday, as a Perth man was charged with molesting three girls he met in a web chatroom.
Police allege the 31-year-old man met the three girls, aged 14 and 15, via a chatroom in February this year and later asked them to come to his home.
The charges include 10 counts of sexual penetration, two of indecent dealing and three of aggravated sexual penetration without consent. He is due to appear in court tomorrow.
Superintendent Steve Roast from the West Australian police computer crime investigations unit said there had been a rise in similar offences against teenage girls and boys.
"This is consistent with what we are finding is occurring all over Australia," he said. "We are seeing an increase in complaints from parents, and abuse of these particular chatrooms."
Superintendent Roast said authorities had coined the phrase "grooming" to describe how pedophiles lured their victims to an in-person meeting.
"Kids will engage in fantasy, but these people are about trying to translate that into reality," he said. "They do that by a process that we now refer to as grooming, where they gain the confidence of these kids over a period of time and then coax them out out of the cyber world so they can take advantage of them. It's despicable."
Superintendent Roast urged parents to monitor and limit their children's internet use.
He said letting children use the internet without any supervision was akin to allowing them to go to a "seedy nightclub".
Superintendent Roast said state and federal police were taking a number of steps to combat sexual cybercrime.
They were working with the new Australian High Tech Crime Centre, as well as drafting legislation that would give police greater powers to investigate people suspected of using the internet to prey on children.
Police ministers from all states called for a national pedophile register when they met earlier this month.
That was endorsed yesterday by the state community development ministers who were meeting in Perth.
"The ministers see it as a critical child protection measure," a spokesman for West Australian Community Development Minister Sheila McHale said.
Under the proposed system, convicted pedophiles will have to keep police informed of their home, work, vehicle and travel details for up to 15 years.
The issue of internet pedophilia is also being investigated by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission, which held hearings on cybercrime in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra this month.
Original article: www.theaustralian.news.com.au
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