Parents recently had the opportunity to learn more about cyber predators and how to keep their children safe.
On Saturday, 10 April, Captain Veronica Banks and Warrant Officer Johan Boshoff from the Gauteng Serial and Electronic Crime Investigation Force spoke to parents and other interested parties about the issue.
The morning was hosted by Karen Bradford, a psychologist from the Pure Health Centre in Krugersdorp. She explained that because she works with many teenagers and has become worried about cyber predators she contacted Banks and Boshoff and asked them to give a talk. The 17-year-old Joshua Putzer spoke to the parents about his experiences as a teenager handling cyber predators.
Banks said children spend between 30 and 650 percent of their day on social media, and parents need to warn their children about the dangers which include cyber predators and cyberbullying, among others.
She urged parents to check their children’s social media regularly because she questioned whether children should have a right to privacy when it came to social media.
Banks and Boshoff have both worked on a number of serious cases involving child predators. “We believe our children know that we love them, but we need to make a point of telling them we love them and that we will be there for them,” she said, adding that children should be seen and heard, and have the right to say no to abuse.
The information one posts on social media could fall into the wrong hands, for example a live video can show exactly where you are and what you are doing; holiday photos imply you are not home; marketplace photos of your vehicle give criminals what they need; or the innocent photo of your naked baby might be cute to you, but that is exactly what predators are looking for.
According to Banks you can be charged for accessing and looking at child porn, and even animated child porn is illegal in our country. Children above the age of 14 can also be held liable for their actions. Offences include being in possession of inappropriate photos or videos; taking inappropriate photos or videos; sharing inappropriate photos or videos; making threats or stalking online; bullying or harassing; grooming; or creating fake social media accounts to trick people.
Children who experience something similar should talk to an adult they trust – their parents, teachers, police or even a social worker. “Report the crime to the local police, and you do not have to show them sensitive video or photo evidence. Just ask to speak to someone from the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit. Keep the proof of the incident to provide the police with the evidence,” Boshoff said.
He told parents to go through their children’s phones once a month or even once a week. They should talk to their children about sex, because if they don’t there might be someone else who will.