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Kids face net chat risk

By CRAIG McTEAR

COFFS COAST parents are being urged to learn about the internet and ways to protect their kids from cyber predators.

The police warning comes as children are due to begin their summer school holidays, and ties in with NSW Crime Prevention Week, which ends on Saturday.

Detective Inspector Paul Jacob, from the Child Protection and Sex Crimes Squad, said children were at greatest risk from online predators during holidays, in the evenings and on weekends.

"The internet provides a great opportunity to learn and communicate with peers, but there are some areas of cyberspace that are not appropriate and expose children and young people to risks," he said.

"Some online chat rooms and social networking sites have proven to be dangerous destinations for children who are unsupervised. "Without sufficient information and guidance to ward off approaches from sexual predators, young people can expose themselves without realising the consequences.

"These predators are aware of the latest music, hobbies and interests. Some attempt to lower a child's inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their conversations, while others immediately engage in sexually explicit conversation.

"The rules you teach your children about meeting new people in the real world also apply when they meet and 'chat' with people online. You wouldn't talk to a stranger in the street for several hours, and you wouldn't tell a stranger your age, address, school or mobile phone number."



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