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Ms Kozakiewicz, now 21, said predators were crafty when it came to grooming and abusing children.“They may use dating websites to gather information from parents for the purposes of learning that they have children that they wish to abuse,” she said.
Ms Kozakiewicz said parents should be mindful when using online dating services as they could easily bring their child into contact with a predator.“Parents need to educate themselves around the dangers of dating online.
Mr Heysen said when people met someone new it was important to get to know the person and trust them before introducing them to friends and family.
He said this was true whether the couple met in a pub, a club or online.“Unfortunately when people take their relationship offline, the dating website through which they met has very little influence over how people conduct their personal relationships,” he said.
Private investigator and director for online investigations, Julia Robson, who has appeared on to assist with investigations relating to online dating scams, said there were always risks when single parents entered back into the dating game.“These risks increase more when parents incorporate their children and their identities into their dating life,” Ms Robson said.“This can include including pictures of their children in their dating profiles, stating children’s names and ages, sharing details about their children’s routine and interests and introducing their children to their date at an early stage."Ms Robson said parents should make the dating experience about themselves only, and remove references to their children or being a single parent from their public profiles.“Once you have begun your private conversation with a potential date online, it is recommended to explain that you would like to get to know the person better before you provide any further detail about your children.
Det-Insp Rouse said the taskforce had encountered situations where child sex offenders had targeted single mothers on dating sites.Internet communications and technology team leader for South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), Juliet Summers, is an online project worker who assists survivors of sexual assault.“Predators will always be found in any target-rich environment and the reality is that they are targeting mums to get to their children,” Ms Summers said.“I think everyone should have more education about the issue of digital footprints.It can often be hard to identify online grooming until it is too late,” she said.He urged people to use all dating sites and mobile phone apps with great caution."Leave your children completely out of the online dating process so that you don't attract the wrong kind of attention.Make the online dating about you, not your kids,” he said.