Detective Inspector Jon Rouse says online predators change have changed their skills and parents need to stay up-to-date.
Detective Inspector Jon Rouse says online predators change have changed their skills and parents need to stay up-to-date.

MUST READ: How to stay ahead of paedophiles

A TOP detective charged with hunting the worst paedophiles has revealed the new tricks online predators are using to lure and groom young children for abuse.

After tracking online predators for more than 18 years, detective Inspector Jon Rouse says new trends continue to emerge and parents need to stay ahead of new tactics to protect their children.

He told A Current Affair last night parents needed to take an active role in their children's online lives and be frank with them about the kind of photos and material they shared as the age of victims continued to fall and the methods of grooming became more creative.

Insp Rouse said a university professor cooked up a scheme where online he posed as Justin Bieber, luring young fans. Once the kids were entranced by the pop star, the professor made them do unspeakable things.

"What this 'Justin Bieber' made them do is really quite horrendous, and that is the kind of thing that we continue to see," he said.

"It's all about how many likes they can get, so what they might do is more and more and more provocative kind of material to the point where it's used against them.

"There is no profile (of a paedophile). They are all walks of life, all occupations, 18 to 65, 70 plus.

"I guess the public perception of what a paedophile is would be Dennis Ferguson. The face that everybody would love to hate.

"That's just not the reality. They live amongst us. They walk amongst us. You just wouldn't know. You just can't pick them."

Insp Rouse and his team work to bring down online predators.
Insp Rouse and his team work to bring down online predators.

Insp Rouse and his team work on operations worldwide, shutting down individuals who have made contact with children for the purpose of abuse.

His team worked on the notable case Operation Achilles, where a girl known as Tara was abused online by her father. It took a global operation involving the FBI to rescue the girl who continued being abused until she was eight years old.

"Over years we watched her grow up," Insp Rouse explained.

"How she is travelling now is questionable."

Task Force Argos has rescued 362 children in the last 18 months. Insp Rouse says his team of 40 is constantly arresting paedophiles, and he feels he could happily double his team and they would still be "gainfully employed".

He noted in the interview the age of victims had been skewing younger, and his team had rescued children in nappies as young as six months old.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR KIDS SAFE ONLINE

The new focus for the taskforce is teaching online safety in a real way that applies to parents and young people. Photographs parents may consider "cute" are described by the taskforce as being "attractive" to predators.

Insp Rouse says it's not simply a matter of taking devices away from kids. "That won't help. They can log in from a friend's (device)," he said.

"Sit down with your child and have the talk about online safety. I wouldn't let my child have a real pic. It would be, you know, anything else. Do you really need that forward-facing picture showing who you are on social media?

"If you're going to install an app, how about going through an installing security on the application?"

Insp Rouse says a lot of these apps have good security but parents aren't engaging with the features. He said a child who was victimised and part of an investigation last year was shown to have 97,000 contacts on Snapchat. The paedophile had 100,000 contacts.

"Would you be happy that your child is being followed by over 100,000 people?" Insp Rouse said.

He said checking these friends' lists at regular intervals was important.

The only way to keep children safe was to take an active role in their online life and use of social media, said Insp Rouse, who explained predators were constantly discovering new ways to find and exploit children.


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