CYBER COP: Susan McLean - author of Sexts, Texts and Selfies - spoke as part of the Parenting Festival on protecting children online. Photo: Adam Hourigan
CYBER COP: Susan McLean - author of Sexts, Texts and Selfies - spoke as part of the Parenting Festival on protecting children online. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Clarence kids more vulnerable in cyber space

DESPITE the Clarence Valley's geographical isolation from the metropolitan areas of Australia, according to cyber safety expert Susan McLean the Valley's children are not isolated from online threats.

And in fact, they could be at a greater risk to cyber crimes because they lack street smarts.

"Certainly city kids get sucked in as well and I am not saying they are immune to things," Ms McLean said.

"But we know that kids in rural and remote communities don't often have the street smarts of city kids, so they aren't always aware of the ploys that people online engage in.

"They are a little more vulnerable in that regard. They are really trusting and nice kids and that can be a good thing and a bad thing in certain regards."

Ms McLean was in the Valley to present talks with local parents and children about cyber safety as part of the highly successful Toolbox Parenting Festival presented by Clarence Valley Council.

"I think the beauty of the parenting festival is that it has brought in a series of experts to support parents on common issues," she said. "I can personally promise parents that the issues they are dealing with at home are being dealt with by 10, 20 or even 30 other families."

"Parents often feel disempowered to help their children online, but they need to know there is strength in numbers. The kids may change, the uniforms may change but the issues they all face are the same."

Despite an increase in the policing of cyber crimes, Ms McLean believes prevention is a better tact than policing the problem.

"With the introduction of new technologies and new ways to get online it is only increasing the access that these people have to our children and furthering the problem," she said.

"What we need to be doing is educating parents and children and make them aware of the dangers.

"Policing the issue does not fix the damage that is done to the victims of these crimes. It is much better to get in before the issue and prevent it from happening."



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