With children and teenagers being among the most likely to be targeted by online predators, local police are doing their bit to make the internet a safer place for the region’s young people.
Riverina Police District officers are teaming up with the Wagga Police Citizens Youth Club to host a free hour-long forum to teach parents and children how to operate safely online.
Junee duty officer Inspector Rob Vergano said the forum would equip the community with some priceless tools for protecting children.
“As technology improves, it brings with it extra problems and different ways predators can target our young people,” Inspector Vergano said.
“This is obviously technology that we didn’t have in our day that is all new to us but is second nature to teens – they know how to access everything online and, unfortunately, so do some of the predators out there using social media.
“It really is the way of the future, and this is obviously something we’re stuck with forever that is only going to advance further, so this forum gives us a good head start.”
Inspector Vergano said it was disturbingly easy for children and teenagers to fall victim to online predators.
“We see kids on certain social media sites accepting to be friends with people that they don’t know, and often predators will utilise a fake profile or fake photograph to tap into our young people,” he said.
“But this is also about cyber-bullying, which is obviously very topical with the young girl up in the Northern Territory who took her own life a couple of weeks ago.”
NSW Police youth and crime prevention commander Superintendent David Roptell said he hoped the community would take up the opportunity to attend the session.
“These forums will cover a range of topics including privacy settings and content, cyber-bullying, online grooming, digital shadows, having respectful relationships online and – most importantly – where to get help,” Superintendent Roptell said.
“While the internet can be a fun and educational place, we want families to be aware of the dangers that sharing information online could potentially bring.
“Anyone can be a victim of cyber-bullying because it doesn’t discriminate and the anonymous nature of the online environment makes it easy to target people.”
The free forum will be held at the Wagga PCYC this Tuesday from 7pm.