AFP releases two new episodes of Closing The Net podcast - education is the key

AFP Closing The Net podcast

The AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation has today released two new episodes of the compelling Closing The Net podcast series to highlight the importance of education and awareness in online child sexual exploitation.

Narrated by Australian actress and mother, Caroline Craig, who appeared in Blue Heelers and Underbelly, the two new episodes offer valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online.

Episode 1 – See Say Do focuses on what children are seeing and doing online. The episode speaks with the people behind the AFP-led ThinkUKnow online safety program, including volunteers who have been presenting for more than 10 years. AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw, Microsoft’s Phil Myer and Maria Bennett from Neighbourhood Watch are among those featured.  A parent discusses what he learned after listening to season one of Closing The Net, and how it gave him and his wife tips on how to speak with their kids about online dangers.

Episode 2 – Time to Talk breaks down some of the myths about online child sexual exploitation but explains how easily it can happen. It includes a case study of 13-year-old girl who sent naked images of herself to someone she didn’t know on Snapchat. The mother tells the podcast she was reluctant to allow her daughter on social media but relented because her daughter’s friends were on the platform. When her daughter exchanged the image, the offender asked for more. When she  refused, the image was sent to her school friends via snapchat.

Alongside parents, teachers, and industry experts, the episodes also contain valuable tips and advice from the AFP-led ThinkUKnow Program - Australia’s only national law enforcement-led online child safety program that delivers community presentations and online resources to raise awareness of online child sexual exploitation.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said more resources for parents, families, and care givers empowered those groups to protect children and recognise the signs of exploitation and abuse.

“We can’t be complacent – child abuse and sexual exploitation is occurring in Australia. The Government and the AFP are serious about cracking down on this despicable crime but understanding the threat and starting a conversation with children is just as important,” Minister Andrews said.

Launched in June 2021 by Minister Andrews, the Closing The Net 10-part series provides listeners with rare behind-the-scenes access to the women and men who work tirelessly to end the exploitation of children.

It has recorded more than 50,000 downloads and trended number one on Australian documentary podcasts, highlighting the demand for information and resources to help protect kids when they’re online. 

AFP Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale said the podcasts were an important step in raising awareness of this insidious and, often, unspoken crime.

“As well as encouraging conversation and raising awareness, we hope this podcast will give parents, guardians and carers tips on how to protect kids online, including how to identify and report offensive online behaviour,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

ACCCE research shows that only 21 per cent of parents think there is a likelihood that online child sexual exploitation can happen to their child, only 3 per cent see online grooming as a concern, and 51 per cent did not know what they could do to keep their children safe online.

“We all need to be aware that online child sexual exploitation does exist. We need to educate ourselves about what it is, how easy and quickly it can occur and how to protect children from ever having to experience it,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

Closing The Net is available now on all major podcast platforms.

If you know of a child that is being contacted inappropriately or groomed by an adult online, or have been affected by online child sexual exploitation visit the ACCCE website for advice and support.

Note to media:

Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
  • conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.

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