Never smile at a crocodile

“As a former police officer of twenty-two years and undercover internet detective, as well as a father, I am uniquely qualified and passionate about informing parents of the online risks to their children. I’ve arrested over a thousand people for criminal offences. For most of my sixteen years as a detective, I investigated adult people who were looking to seriously harm or abuse children.”

Brett Lee, Internet Safe Education


No one knows the mind of an online predator better than Family Zone cyber expert Brett Lee. His book Screen Resolution (Aurora House 2017) is a compulsively readable account of his career as an investigator of cyber crimes against children.

In this excerpt, Brett - a Queenslander -  likens online predators to the crocs that infest local waterways. And he explains that keeping safe from both types of threat requires heightened vigilance.

Crocodiles populate Australia’s northern regions in large numbers. To help locals and visitors avoid becoming a casualty to these dangerous creatures, the Queensland Government issues guidelines teaching people to be ‘croc-wise’; that is, to know the crocodile’s habits and follow guidelines that minimise the risks.

In a similar way, knowing the predator’s habits enables parents to become ‘predator-wise’.

The human version of predators, like the crocodile, are patient. They will lie in wait for their victim for years, carefully concealing their presence, identifying the right target, and planning their attack.

Guidelines developed to safeguard against crocodile attacks acknowledge these predators are not likely to become extinct soon. Thus, the best form of action is to steer clear of their habitats and identify and take action early enough when they threaten. Similarly, predators are a multiplying breed, and while law enforcers are hot on their trail, the best safeguard is for everyday people to be wise to their devices.


  Crocodile-wise Online Predator Precautions

1

Do not swim where crocodiles live.

Do not frequent sites where predators lie in wait.

2

Do not dangle arms and legs over the river bank or boat into the water.

Do not communicate online with a person who is unknown to us.

3

Do not feed crocodiles directly or by leaving fish and food scraps on boat ramps or campsites.

Provide as little personal information as possible for the predator to feed on.

4

If you fall out of a boat, get back in as soon as possible.

We all make mistakes online, but learn quickly and do not repeat them.

5

Avoid livestock and wildlife drinking spots. Crocodiles are patient and learned hunters; they know these spots are likely places to find a meal.

Do not be fooled into thinking sites are safe for children because lots of their friends are using them. It could be quite the opposite.

6

When camping at a site for a long time, do not form a pattern with activities, e.g. do not fish in the same place, at the same time, every time.

Teach children to vary their internet activity so a predator will not be able to follow their movements.


It is interesting to note that the crocodile-infested areas of Australia are highly inhabited by humans, yet it is rare for a person to be taken by a crocodile when they know the habits of crocs and take safeguards. Equally interesting, local residents do not live in fear of them attacking. The people most frequently taken by crocodiles are tourists. They venture into the murky waters and threatening surroundings in ignorance and increase their chances of being taken.

It is parents' and caregivers’ responsibility to ensure their loved ones are not ignorant of predator habits and the dangers lying in wait on the internet.

 Simple awareness increases safety significantly.*

And awareness coupled with strong parental controls is your best protection against the swamp creatures that infest the internet. Brett Lee endorses Family Zone, as the most comprehensive, simple-to-use solution for managing children’s online activity. He uses at home to protect his own four children.

*Screen Resolution, Brett Lee with David Morris (Aurora House 2017)


Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Cyber Safety, online predators

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