Parents warned online babysitter ads with photos of children could lure sex predators
PARENTS are unwittingly offering their children as bait for predators by posting cute pictures online as they hunt for babysitters.
The pictures have been posted as part of advertisements on online buying and selling website Gumtree as parents to find carers for their children.
Under the heading “Babysitters wanted”, parents in several Australian cities have used pictures of their children to attract applicants, but police warn the images could attract predators.
One ad features a five-year-old girl striking a model pose with big brown eyes and a cheeky grin.
”Fun? Love kids? Born and raised in Australia? My beautiful daughter is nearly 5. She is very girlie, bubbly and full of life,” the ad reads.
Another, froma Sydney family, shows a photo of their three children and even list their names and ages and the suburb where they live.
There are similar ads from parents in Melbourne and other regions.
Authorities call it a child molester’s dream but mothers say they are desperate to find someone to look after their kids.
High profile criminal lawyer Bill Potts told The Gold Coast Bulletin the ads were “incredibly dangerous”.
“They are inviting strangers into their child lives there is a very real prospect of danger,” said Mr Potts.
“Predators search for opportunities just like this to prey on a child.
“It is specifically dangerous. The images of cute little girls in fairy costumes would have a child molester salivating.”
Mum of two young children Josie Cadman posted an ad looking for a nanny for her two young children.
Within an hour, a man called wanting the job.
“You have to be very specific. You have to know what you’re looking for and you have got to get police checks, make sure they have a blue card – the lot,” Ms Cadman said.
“I have a very strict criteria when it comes to my kids. I considered long and hard before I used the pics of me and my kids, but I wanted whoever applied to know we were a family.”
Child protection organisation Bravehearts said parents needed to be aware of the dangers of posting images of children online.
“Bravehearts advises people to exercise caution and only include basic information online. Don’t advertise that you have children or include images of your children. These are details that offenders are specifically looking for,” a spokesman said.
“If you have any concerns about individuals who contact you through the internet, you should report this to the police. ”
Child Protection Unit officer Detective Sergeant Melissa Gilbert urged people to be aware of the dangers.
“Unfortunately there are people in the community who can use this information in a way that it is not intended and this can put the original poster and their families at risk,” Det Sgt Gilbert said.
“If someone was to try and find a babysitter over the internet then it is important that they meet this person first, conduct appropriate reference checks with previous employers and verify their identity to ensure that the person is who they purport to be.”
Basic safety tips for choosing babysitters
* It is a good idea to let your babysitters know that your children have been taught personal safety rules;
* Ask for references and then contact these people to find out if any problems exist;
* Make surprise visits. You have a right to check on your child’s well-being;
* Never leave your child with anyone they don’t like or feel uncomfortable, unhappy or unsure with. Ask them why they feel this way and listen carefully for their response. Remember, children often tell you things in “kiddy-speak” kind of ways rather than in more direct adult language.
* Remember to reinforce the rules about ‘It’s OK to say NO’ and to be sure the child understands that this rule applies to everyone, including, family members and close friends.