Children offered vouchers and in-game currency for naked images

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

The AFP is warning that online child sex offenders are enticing young teenagers with cash and food vouchers to provide naked or sexually-suggestive images.

The AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) has received an increase in reports over the past few months of children self-producing child exploitation material (CAM) for financial incentives.

AFP Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec said school holiday periods typically led to an increase in reports of self-produced CAM as children spent more time online unsupervised.

Online offenders have typically used emotionally-coercive tactics to exploit children into self-producing CAM. But investigators have seen a growth in cases involving young teenagers being offered incentives such as money, food deliveries and vouchers.

Children as young as 10 are also being targeted with incentives such as in-game currency on popular online games.

Commander Sirec said offenders were targeting children through social media and this new tactic left vulnerable children at particular risk.

"Once an image has been shared it can end up anywhere, including on some of the world's most depraved dark web child abuse forums as offenders often circulate images among themselves," Commander Sirec said.

"Disturbingly, we also know offender networks routinely trade information about particular users of social media who are susceptible to incentives or coercion, which will lead to repeated contact requests from other predators.

"Parents and carers should be aware of some tell-tale signs that their children could be victims of this new trend, such as unexplained food deliveries arriving or children having additional money in their accounts.

"The start of the school holidays is the perfect time to sit down and talk to them about their online activities, including the type of conversations they are having online and with who.

"It is important that parents approach these conversations with their child openly, in a non-judgemental way. Ensure your child is comfortable coming to you if an issue arises and make it clear that nothing is so bad that they can't tell you or another trusted adult about".

One way parents and carers can start a conversation is to create a Family Online Safety Contract, developed by the AFP's online child safety program, ThinkUKnow, and the Carly Ryan Foundation.

This is an agreement between parents or carers and their children that can assist in setting boundaries and expectations for their online activities.

If parents are concerned about an issue that has happened online, it is critical children are supported. Parents and carers can make a report online by alerting the ACCCE via the Report Abuse button.

The AFP's ThinkUKnow online child safety program is focused on preventing online child sexual exploitation. For more information visit the ThinkUKnow website.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit the ACCCE to learn more.

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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Read the AFP Annual Report 2021-22

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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