Warning: Keep kids off dating sites

Last updated 05:00 04/10/2014

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Women who post photos of their children on dating sites are unwittingly baiting prowling paedophiles.

A clinician who works with sexual offenders, including paedophiles, wants parents to remove photographs of their children from all dating sites.

Korowai Tumanako services lead clinician Russell Smith who works with sexual offenders, said predators use social media and dating sites to gain access to children.

"People will harvest information from a raft of social media forums including dating sites quite easily because if they can groom the parent they can groom the child."

Waikato Times searched popular adult dating site Tinder and out of the 100 profile photos of Hamilton users found 43 featuring children in the images.

"They don't know what is going to happen to those photos with their children in it," Smith said. "I think it's really inappropriate that they put pictures up of their children on these sites."

Smith, who has worked as a clinician for 11 years, said paedophiles came across as kind and caring.

"Graham Capill is the perfect example, he advocated against sexual violence and so did Rolf Harris. Rolf was against sexual violence and he preached all about it, but at the same time they were predators."

Hamilton's Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock said women who use children on their dating site profile could be courting danger.

"Women have to acknowledge that as much as they are looking for people who are going to be good with children and accept children . . . there will be dangers with doing so and they may be unwittingly putting themselves and their children at risk."

Simcock said historically 90 per cent of sexual assaults on children were committed by someone the child and family knew.

According to police, sexual assaults have increased in the Waikato by 32 per cent year-on-year. A large portion of that number is sexual assaults against children.

This equated to a rise from 299 cases in 2012-13 to 395 cases in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Waikato police district commander Superintendent Bruce Bird said the increase was an uncomfortable reality.

"The more people who come forward to report sexual offending against the youngest members of our communities, most of whom are incapable of protecting themselves or reporting it, the more that can be done to help them."

Police were aware sexual predators may profile single mums to get access to children, acting Detective Senior Sergeant Kristine Clarke with Waikato child protection said.

"My message is people need to think carefully and be aware that there are predators out there who could possibly be using [dating websites] to target children."

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Internet safety organisation NetSafe urged parents to think about the information they share.

Digital project manager Chris Hails said personal information should always be kept private.

"It begs the question is a dating site really the best place for putting up pictures of your children [where] people who may have ulterior motives can see it."


- Waikato Times


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