More internet sex pests out there, warns child advocacy group

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The exploitation of social media by sexual predators targeting children is likely to increase, according to the Coalition for the Protection of Children.

Director of Special Projects Kelly Hunt spoke out in the aftermath of the jailing of Christopher Corday, sentenced to 18 months in jail on Tuesday for propositioning underage girls via Facebook.

Corday, 22, admitted communicating with an 11-year-old and 14-year-old girl in an attempt to solicit sex — along with intruding on their privacy.

The Hamilton Parish man also intruded on the privacy of a third girl, aged between 14 and 16 at the time of the offences.

“Although this is being reported as the first case of its kind, it is likely that we will see more of these stories in the future,” Ms Hunt said.

The advent of the internet has altered “the scale and nature of the problem of sexual predators and child pornography”, she added.

“The bottom line here is that children should never be viewed as sexual objects. Minors should not be seen as willing participants, and must be protected by the law and general community from predators who are actively seeking out inexperienced young people through Facebook and other social media.”

Predators take advantage of the fact that trust can develop quickly online, and seduce their targets through attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. “This issue is being noted on a global scale, and Bermuda will be no exception,” she said.

She urged parents to keep involved in their children’s internet activities — including following the age limits on social networking websites, which typically require users to be 13 and older.

“These guidelines are set to safeguard young people not only from sexual predators but from their own inability to project the long term consequences of their activities online,” Ms Hunt said.

“Ultimately, we must teach our children what is quickly becoming the golden rule the golden rule of the 21st Century. We must impart the responsible use of technology with the understanding that shared information is both public and permanent.”

She advised avoiding “blame and/or shame” in instances when children receive sexually explicit photos from an online correspondent — or are solicited sexually via e-mail, instant messaging, or some other online avenue.

“Contact the police and save any documentation including e-mail addresses, website addresses, and chat logs.”

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