My son has been chatting to a grown man who lives near us. They talk over the back fence. When Philip first told me about their conversations I freaked. He thought I was nuts.
"But we KNOW him Mum," he said.
"No we don't. We know hardly anything about him."
I told Philip, 9, he wasn't allowed to talk to anyone who wasn't close family unless either Mum or Dad were there with him. Philip was so confused by my concern. I tried not to be too scary during our conversation because the last thing I wanted to happen was for Philip to keep talking to people like this and not tell me.
I also need him to be safe and aware. It's a really difficult balancing act.
My heart was in my mouth when I heard that 348 people have been arrested as part of a global child pornography ring operating out of Canada. 65 of these low-lives are Australian. They were arrested in July and August of this year and included:
A FORMER PRIEST
Tell me you aren't as chilled by this list as I am.
That means that people close to your children, people who are meant to be responsible and caring, could be preying on them. THIS is why I am worried, Philip. There is danger everywhere. I am trying to protect you son. You don't know how dangerous some people can be?
These criminals have been charged with a range of offenses including accessing, possessing, PRODUCING and distributing child exploitation material. At least, that's what they have been arrested for. Who knows what else they have done. They are aged between 25 and 72.
The three year operation began in Canada, when Toronto police started monitoring a company called Azovfilms.com and it's owner Brian Way. Suspicious, they began tracking it's users. They called it Project Spade. They found people accessing the site from many countries including Australia. They contacted the Australian Federal Police who quickly set up Operation Thunderer.