The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC), in partnership with Taskforce Argos (Queensland Police Service), has welcomed Alicia Kozakiewicz, a survivor of internet luring and abduction to Brisbane as part of her visit to Australia. Alicia is in Australia sharing her story and learnings to help decision makers, educators and parents develop meaningful and effective practices to protect children online.
In January 2002 Alicia became the victim of an internet luring operation and was abducted to another state in the United States of America where she was held captive.
Internet abduction and child sexual exploitation is not something any child or parent want to face but sadly in a digital age this prospect is very possible.
Luckily for Alicia after falling victim to internet luring she was rescued by the FBI and has since used her story to raise awareness about internet safety and missing persons. She also established the Alicia Project, an advocacy group that provides education on topics such as internet safety for children, the prevalence of online child predators, and abductions.
Cheryl Vardon, Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission, said that it was a great opportunity to get first-hand information on how online predation occurs and what we can be doing to stop it.
“This is a very important issue across child protection and something that we need to get right. Even one child being exploited is too many,” Ms Vardon said.
“It is through opportunities such as this that we can hear first-hand how internet luring has no boundaries, it can have catastrophic results to all children, not just those who are considered vulnerable and this is at the very core of how we can then inform policies and decisions being made across government and non-government agencies in the protection of children online.”
Detective Inspector Jon Rouse, Taskforce Argos, said that Alicia’s story would help shed a light on the dark dangers of the internet.
“It is vital that we protect children online. Through today’s session, we will all be able to inform our future practices whether that is as a parent, a community member or a policy and decision maker to ensure that we are doing the best we can to protect children,” Mr Rouse said.
“We all have a responsibility in keeping our kids safe and awareness and education are among the best preventatives we have.”
Alicia is sharing her story and message in the hope that it will not only raise awareness of child exploitation online, but help inform future cases and stop the cycle.
“It is something that no parent would ever want for their child and I hope that, through sharing my story, we can make a difference in the lives of children around the world,” Ms Kozakiewicz said.
The session was held at QUT and was attended by more than 90 educators, parents and policy makers.
Alicia "Kozak" Kozakiewicz is an internationally-acclaimed motivational speaker, Internet safety expert and author.
For the past 15 years Alicia has pioneered internet safety and sexual exploitation awareness presentations to children and adults. One of the most vocal and outspoken advocates for child safety legislation, Alicia has testified before Congress and works alongside Protect (www.protect.org) to pass Alicia’s Law, which provides funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force enabling them to rescue endangered children.
More on Alicia: www.aliciakozak.com/