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National calls for ‘grooming’ laws

National calls for ‘grooming’ laws

Simon Power - National Justice Spokesperson

National is calling for the urgent introduction of new laws making it an offence for children to be “groomed” for sexual abuse.

“It is too easy for paedophiles to go online in internet chat rooms to “groom” or build up a relationship with children, with a view to meeting them in person,” says National’s Justice spokesperson, Simon Power.

“Overseas experience – and here in New Zealand too – shows that chat room contact can quickly escalate to personal contact.

“It’s known that a person can enter a chat room pretending to be a teenager, and win a young person’s trust. A face-to-face meeting is then arranged. It’s unclear how many young New Zealanders have been “groomed” in this way, but in Britain at least a dozen children have been sexually assaulted by people they’ve met through the internet.

“Where an adult is using modern technologies such as the internet or text messaging to meet with a minor, then a presumption should exist in law that such meetings are not for a lawful purpose.

“Britain is considering such laws – and New Zealand should too. This would allow prosecution at an early stage when children are being “groomed” before a (legally) existing sexual offence has been committed. Such laws would apply also to telephone calls and text messaging,” says Mr Power.

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