NSW Police has issued an urgent warning to parents to keep an eye on their kids’ online activity following the arrest of three men over alleged online grooming.
Police said 560 people had been arrested and 2800 charges laid since January following investigations into child sexual assaults, serious physical abuse, extreme cases of neglect and online grooming.
Last month, detectives from Strike Force Trawler started speaking with a man from the state’s Hunter Region under the guise of a 14-year-old girl.
He is accused of engaging in sexually explicit conversations with her before making an alleged arrangement to meet the girl for sex.
The 44-year-old was arrested on Tuesday and charged with using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years for sexual activity.
He appeared at Newcastle Local Court on the same day and was refused bail and will reappear next month.
Meanwhile, detectives also spoke with a Central Coast man who believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl.
He is accused of sending sexually explicit material to the teen. The 41-year-old was refused bail at the Newcastle Local Court and will reappear on Wednesday.
A 32-year-old man was also arrested at Westmead on Thursday and charged with using a carriage service to procure a child under 16 for sexual activity.
He has been granted bail and will appear at the Downing Centre Local Court in November.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliot said it was a particularly concerning period given kids are at home and spending more time online.
“Police will always be committed to protecting kids from harm, but do not underestimate the impact you can have as a parent or carer by educating your children on how to stay safe,” he said.
In 90 per cent of cases children are abused by someone known to them, Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander detective Acting Superintendent Chris Goddard said.
He highlighted that people in positions of trust had been arrested.
“Recently we have seen a number of people arrested that hold positions of trust in the community, so it is worthwhile taking the time to make sure your children understand that help is always available if they ever need it,” he said.
“This year, we know more children have been spending time indoors at home, which often includes activities on devices and on the internet.
“Not only should young people be very careful about providing personal information details to a person they only know in an online environment, they should never organise to meet, as doing so may place them at further risk of harm.”
Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.