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All We Want for Christmas is…….

All We Want for Christmas is…….

Many children and young people will be thrilled to receive Information Communications and Technology (ICT) products and accessories for Christmas this year. Mobile phones with cameras, computers with broadband access to play online games, chat to their friends, surf the internet for fun, study and entertainment will be popular gifts.

But last week the case of Brian Avent (as reported in the New Zealand Herald) revealed how technology is used by child abusers highlighting risks facing children and young people.

Avent groomed his victims by offering access to computer games in calculated moves to ingratiate himself with children. He even attended church with some of them as he wove a web of respectability about himself that manipulated children and their parents.

“Brian Edward Avent, 40, yesterday pleaded guilty to 44 representative charges of sexual offending against 13 boys aged between 9 and 16 at the time of the abuse, between March 2000 and March 2005.

In a summary of facts given to the district court in September, police said Avent was a paedophile who groomed his victims by first offering them access to computer games and supplying them with junk food. Source: NZ Herald 17-12-05

Jane Foster, National Director of ECPAT NZ says; “Parents and adults are generously giving children ICT products as presents; this is great for their learning and entertainment. However it is vital that parents and caregivers take the necessary steps to protect children as well.”

She urged all those giving ICT products to use simple safety measures including; • Activate parental controls on computers when setting up Internet Access • Place the family computer in shared space so the screen can be easily monitored • Monitor children’s email, file/ picture downloading and internet surfing • Monitor mobile phone messages and use

“The Internet and mobile phones are wonderful tools for communicating and keeping in touch. But you wouldn’t give a child a cycle to ride without a safety helmet. Internet and mobile phone safety is just as important. Please check out ECPAT NZ’s child friendly internet safety website www.cyberkidz.co.nz. It’s packed with information for kids about how to protect themselves online.”

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