Assaults prompt social media reminder from police

CHILDREN are still being tricked into befriending sexual predators on social networking sites and police hope a recent spate of disturbing arrests will serve as a reminder of the dangers lurking on the other side of the screen.

A 15-year-old Sydney girl was the most recent victim of online con.

The Hurstville teenager agreed to meet a male "friend" she had met on the internet but when she arrived at their agreed meeting point he allegedly took her to a Carlton home and sexually assaulted her.

A 24-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday and refused bail.

The day before a 27-year-old man was arrested over the repeated, aggravated sexual assault of a 14-year-old Newcastle girl he too befriended through a social media site.

At the same time, another man on the Mid North Coast was arrested during a sting at a Port Macquarie shopping centre after he allegedly set up a meeting with two young boys through the internet.

Police allege the 34-year-old man posed as a teenager and attempted to persuade the boys to send him explicit photos.

Detectives from the Child Abuse Squad have pleaded with parents and children to follow the NSW Police guide for staying safe online.

Tips for parents

  • Spend time talking to your child about the dangers associated with online conversations.
  • Spend time exploring the internet with your children and let them teach you about their favourite websites.
  • Keep the computer in a room the whole family can access; not in your child's bedroom.
  • Consider installing filtering and/or computer blocking software provided by your internet service provider. The Netalert web page provides information on a number of commercially-available products at www.netalert.net.au. Ensure you are able to access your child's email and randomly check the contents.
  • Check your phone bill for unusual outgoing calls, or consider using a 'caller ID' device to identify incoming calls
  • Consult your telephone company for options designed to ensure privacy and security
  • Enquire with your child's school, public library, and places they frequent, to find out what internet safety measures they have in place

Information on internet safety is available on the NSW Police website

Tips for children and teens

  • Do not send a picture of yourself to anyone you don't know and never place a full profile and picture anywhere on the internet
  • Never give out your personal information, including name, home address, phone number or school, over the internet
  • Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you have chatted with on the Internet
  • Tell your parents or another adult you know of any contact that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Remember that pressing 'send' is definite and final - you can't get it back or take it down.

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