Kids asked to ‘Join The Dots’ to help protect other children from online predators

media release

Today, Bravehearts, Australia’s leading child protection charity, in partnership with the Out of the Dark Program at the Queensland Families and Children Commission (QFCC), the Queensland Police Service Taskforce Argos and Queensland’s kids launched an innovative online reporting tool for children and young people to help catch online predators who pose a danger to children.

Founder and Chair of Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston AM said Join the Dots empowers kids to protect themselves, younger siblings and friends by enabling them to report concerning online behaviour directly to Bravehearts who will respect all requests for young people to remain anonymous.

It’s the kids themselves who have the power to trigger protection for their little brothers and sisters, their friends and children everywhere and Bravehearts will assess each report and only pass information on to Police if appropriate,” Ms Johnston said.

“By reporting what they see using the new Join the Dots reporting tool we can help police ‘join the dots’ to identifying predatory behaviour that can be stopped.

“To date, children and young people have been reluctant to report suspicious or worrying behaviour for a variety of reasons with many wrongly believing that nothing will happen to address the problem or that they can handle the situation themselves.

“However, most are frightened that if they ‘officially’ report suspicious behaviour, they’ll draw unwanted attention to themselves which could lead to parents removing devices and internet access,” Ms Johnston said.

To better understand and overcome the barriers of reporting inappropriate or predatory behaviour, in partnership with Bravehearts and the Queensland Police Service, the QFCC consulted with more than 100 children and young people ranging from 8-17 years. Through this consultation it discovered that while kids were not inclined to report concerning behaviour to protect themselves; being empowered to protect siblings and other kids was a motivating factor in their willingness to report.

QFCC Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said the new Join the Dots tool featuring an animated introductory video came directly from the consultation with young people where they wanted better engagement and an enhanced look and feel of the online tool to assist the likelihood of reporting of predatory behaviour.

“The QFCC champions the need to hear from young people as it helps inform important decisions and the new redesign of Join the Dots is just that – taking the feedback from young people and turning it into action,” Ms Vardon said.

“Join the Dots has been enhanced to be more user friendly, allowing children and young people to respond to and report suspected online grooming with a less confronting process. Join the Dots also allows young people to report anonymously if they choose to do so.”

The first Join the Dots was developed in 2016 by Bravehearts in collaboration with the Queensland Police Service and despite the lack of financial support to market test the prototype, young people and their parents reported that the tool was very useful. This made it clear very quickly, that Join the Dots was a vital digital tool with the capability to improve online safety for young people.

Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said having identified the capability of Join the Dots to increase reporting by children and young people of online predatory behaviour, in 2017 the QFCC committed to working with Bravehearts and Queensland Police Service to increase the potential. This collaboration facilitated consultation and research that led to a redesign of Join the Dots to ensure it was in keeping with today’s trends and appealed to young people.

“Join the Dots is a fantastic tool for young people to use if they are experiencing online grooming. The tool aims to really empower young children to speak up in a less confronting manner,” Mr Rouse said.

“We want young people to report this type of behaviour in an environment where they feel safe to do so which will allow Queensland Police Service to respond to internet-related child sexual abuse.”

To learn more about the new Join the Dots tool, please visit bravehearts.org.au/join-the-dots/
For information on all Bravehearts’ child protection programs please visit bravehearts.org.au

For information regarding the Queensland Family and Child Commission please visit qfcc.qld.gov.au and talkingfamilies.qld.gov.au

#Bravehearts #ProtectOurKids #KidsProtectingKids #KidsJoinTheDots #JoinTheDots @KidsJoinTheDots @BraveheartsProtectKids
If the content of this story raises any issues for you, please call Bravehearts on 1800 272 831.

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Media contact:

Kirby Orr, QFCC Senior Media Advisor

Phone: 0476 839 467

05 July 2018