Fingers pressing on a computer keyboard in the dark .
Fingers pressing on a computer keyboard in the dark .

What’s missing in fight against child porn

PEDOPHILES searching for child exploitation material online should be foiled by an alert page that blocks access to ­sinister websites and displays a helpline number, a leading child safety organisation says.

Queensland-based charity Bravehearts wants the helpline number to appear on computer screens when people search for child exploitation material.

"The idea is to get in there early for someone who has not yet offended, or may have offended, and trigger in their mind that what they are doing is real and there is help available," Bravehearts director of research Carol Ronken said.

"There are a percentage of offenders out there who are concerned about their behaviour.

"If we want to prevent harm against children we need to… target the problem at all levels."

Bravehearts has recommended the measure to the Federal Parliament's inquiry into age verification for online pornography.

At present web hosting companies block what child abuse websites they can.

Under the Bravehearts proposal, the blocked site would be replaced with an alert page offering a helpline number.

The submission calls for similar alerts to pop up when terms for child pornography are typed into search engines.

 

Bravehearts director of research Carol Ronken
Bravehearts director of research Carol Ronken

 

"If someone is putting in search terms that are known to be related to child exploitation material, they will automatically be directed to an alert page that tells them what they are searching for easily is potentially illegal and give them options for people to call to get some help if they require," Ms Ronken said.

There are currently no ­Australian helplines specifically for people worried about their sexual thoughts or behaviours toward children.

The absence was highlighted by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It recommended the Stop It Now! helpline, which operates in the UK and the US, as a possible model.

A scoping study by The Men's Project costed a four-year pilot for Stop It Now! across Australia at $2 million.

Bravehearts, which supports the introduction of Stop it Now!, said any cost would be a worthwhile investment.



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