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The New Paedophiles - Special Report
Australia is still reeling in horror as more details emerge of Operation Auxin, Australia's first major crackdown on internet child pornography.

The Australian Federal Police ave confirmed that teachers, a child-care centre owner, a nurse, pastor, a counsellor, executives and even police officers have been involved in internet-based crimes against our children. At the time of going to press, 2177 charges had been laid and 214 arrests or summonses were made.

Dismissing the usual stereotype of 'dirty old men', commander of the NSW Child Protection and Sex Crime squad Superintendent Kim McKay described many of those charged is: 'Mr Joe Average. He is married with children and a good job.'

Most of the alleged offenders were, until now, respected members of the community. Many were known to their victims and even loved by them.

And that's exactly why parents are panicking. We've told our kids about stranger danger, but how do we tell them they need to be wary of the people we trust to take care of them?

How do we warn them that it's not just strangers they need to be afraid of, but family and friends who are supposed to love them?

Kylie Newman is a co-founder of MAKO (Movement Against Kindred Offenders), a non- profit organisation Of concerned people who lobby for harsher penalties for sex offenders, and she says no one is safe.

'That's not being alarmist, that's being realistic/she states. 'You can't trust anyone anymore and parents need to be suspicious of anyone who deals with their kids.'

MAKO, which is calling for mandatory and lengthy jail terms for all paedophiles, has has compiled a 1050 convicted sex offenders and has posted it on the internet.

MAKO's website has photographs of some offenders and it has even organised letterbox deliveries to notify more than 60 communities of paedophiles living secretly amongst them. The scary part is, many of the offenders have been found living within 500 metres of schools, kindergartens and playgrounds.

Kylie admits that civil rights campaigners have criticised MAKO's actions as an invasion of privacy but says: 'The human rights of children are more important than the rights of convicted sex offenders. It's criminal for parents not to know.

'Notifying the public about sex offenders and their whereabouts has nothing to do with shaming them; it's about preventing victims and deterring offenders. We are about encouraging parents to be vigilant, not vigilantes.

'There is a high percentage of re-offending among paedophiles and research shows they are unlikely to ever change. We have no doubt we have helped unsuspecting parents keep their children safe.

Director of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre within the Australian Federal Police Mike Phelan says the internet has allowed paedophiles to flourish and increased the availability and acceptance of hard-core child pornography.

'Some people involved in this type of activity do not see the viewing and dissemination of photos to be a crime, but every child pornographic image portrays a real victim and records an act abuse against a child', he says.

New Idea (30-10-2004) - Bronwyn Marquardt -

WHAT TO DO!
  • Teach your kids sex education. Even toddlers can be told parts of their body covered by bathing suits are private.
  • Be open with your kids. Make sure they know they can Tell you anything, even something that will upset you.
  • Avoid scare tactics. Explain that while most adults won't hurt them some are dangerous and they must be careful.
  • Warn them that it's not just strangers who hurt kids, Sometimes people they love will hurt them, but it's okay to tell you because you will protect them.
  • Explain you will never send a stranger to pick them up without telling them, even in an emergency.
  • Tell them there should be no secrets, even with adults.
  • Never make them kiss or hug anyone they don't want to, including aunties and uncles.
  • If they seem scared or uneasy about an adult, ask why.
  • Monitor their internet usage, and social and educational lives. Know where they're going and who they're with.
  • Don't be complacent Just because someone seems trustworthy doesn't mean they are.
  • Talk about paedophiles and discuss scenarios regularly. For example, say: 1f a man asked you to help him take his sick puppy to the vet, or a woman offered you lollies to give her directions, what would you do?'
  • Remind them some paedophiles are teenagers, or have women to help them.
  • Give them a mobile phone so they can call you at anytime.
  • If they do confide in you, believe them.
  • Trust your instincts and teach your kids to do so, too.
  • If something doesn't feel right, it often isn't.
  • If you catch your partner looking at child pornography, or suspect him of being a paedophile, get help.
  • Talk to the police, call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000, visit www.mako.org.au or contact the Internet Watch Foundation (www.iwf.org.uk), an organisation that works with governments and telecommunications operators to stamp out illegal internet content.
  • You can report child pornography internet sites to the Australian Broadcasting Authority - visit www.aba.gov.au.
  • Special Report- Case Study
    (All names have been changed)

    Single mum-of-two Sarah has been living every mother's nightmare since she found out her 'perfect' fiance was abusing her daughter Anna.

    Sarah had fallen for a senior colleague, Peter, at work four years earlier and at the time thought she'd found the man of her dreams.

    'I was vulnerable,' she admits. 'I was financially insecure, my ex-husband lived overseas, and I was bringing up my son and daughter from that marriage on my own. Then I met Peter and he offered me the world. He had a good job, he loved me and he was wonderful with the kids, particularly Anna. She even called him Daddy,' Sarah explains.

    'We bought a nice house together, and he promised to give the children a good education, which I never could have afforded. I thought he would be the perfect husband and father.'

    One night, when Anna was seven, Sarah walked past Anna's room and saw Peter sitting on her bed.

    'In that moment, I Just got a feeling I can't describe, but I suppose it was a mother's instinct that something wasn't right,'Sarah says.

    The next morning, without even knowing why, Sarah went into Anna's room and said: 'If anyone ever tried to touch you or hurt you in a way that wasn't right, would you tell me?'

    'She looked at me in a funny way, shut the door and said: "What about Dad?" and started to cry.

    Sarah was devastated Although she loved Peter, she and the kids left the house that same day and moved in with Sarah's parents.

    This was the man I thought was my rock, but there was no way I could forgive him for hurting Anna and betraying us like that. I get so angry when I hear of women who stay with child abusers thinking they will change, You can't take that risk. Your children must always come first,' she says.

    Over the next few months, Sarah was by Anna's side as she talked to the police, gave video evidence, talked to counsellors, and endured a soul-destroying internal medical examination to gain physical evidence of the abuse.

    'I can't describe how awful it was to watch my seven-year-old daughter go through all that,' Sarah recalls.

    'She was so depressed and confused she said she wanted to die. She was on suicide watch at the hospital at one stage. She felt guilty about everything, even telling me, because she felt if she'd kept the secret, our family would still be together.

    It took her 14 months of counselling and love from her family and friends to accept that it wasn't her fault.

    'I felt guilty that I'd brought Peter into her life and exposed her to that. My whole world was spinning and I felt like we'd lost everything,' Sarah concedes.

    Peter was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a minor, and two counts of digital rape. Although he initially denied the charges, faced with Anna's strong video evidence, he eventually admitted the abuse and pleaded guilty. He will be sentenced in the near future.

    Though Anna's counsellors believe the brave nine-year-old is yet to tell all about the extent of the abuse, Sarah is proud the little girl was able to confide in her so that she could put a stop to it.

    'If she hadn't told me, I'd probably have married him and the abuse would have been much worse,' says Sarah.

    'All I can say to other mothers is don't wait for your kids to tell you they're being abused, you have to talk to them about it and ask them. You might get an answer you don't want, but at least you can do something about it'.

    Sarah has followed the news of Operation Auxin with relief and horror. I'm relieved there is finally something being done, but I think it's just the tip of the iceberg,' she adds.

    'I watch the news and I cry: because it brings it all back. The police have told me that what Peter did to us is pretty common with paedophiles. They pick a vulnerable mother to groom them to get to the kids. Anna is pretty and blonde, with big blue eyes and as cute as a button, and she really wanted a daddy. We played right into his hands,' she says.

    'Neither of us will probably ever trust a man again, but if telling our story stops this from happening to even one more family, it will mean what happened to Anna has at least helped keep another child safe,' Sarah states.

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