Police target web predators

Sunday Star Times 22 February 2009

A new police unit is being launched to protect kids from online sexual predators and the dangers of social networking sites. The cyber cop taskforce, called Oceanz Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand is a reaction to increasing numbers of cases where children are exploited on the internet.

Predators are using social networking sites like Bebo to “groom” children, with some offenders organising to meet the children for sex. Several have been caught and convicted. By May last year, an estimated 1.7 million New Zealanders had a Facebook profile, with the numbers using Bebo thought to be higher. MySpace remains popular along with countless chatrooms and dating sites, most of which have age restrictions.