Paedophiles’ latest strategy for accessing kids


LONELY single mums using dating apps are being targeted by paedophiles, including a Queensland man arrested for abusing the children of a woman he met online, police warned yesterday.

Detective Inspector Jon Rouse, who runs the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation for the federal police, as well as Taskforce Argos for Queensland police, said dating apps were being used to exploit children.

He warned women not to post photos of their kids on dating apps - or even mention they have children until they have met a date in person - to avoid "the wrong kind of attention''.

"Child sex offenders are using dating apps … and targeting single and lonely women with children,'' he told The Courier-Mail in an exclusive interview yesterday.

"They have one thing on their mind and that's children.

"The predators will always look for vulnerable children, and in many cases, single parent children are more vulnerable.

"Knock yourself out on online dating but make it's about you. Do not use photos of your children - you are potentially attracting the wrong kind of attention.''

Detective Inspector Rouse said police had recently arrested a Queensland man who had abused the children of a girlfriend he met online.

The single mum had trusted him enough to leave her kids in his care, oblivious to the abuse until police swooped on the man for sending videos of the abuse online.

Federal Government eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant yesterday warned that women could meet "the worst of the worst'' on dating apps.

She urged single parents to "be cautious if someone shows too much interest in your children'' on dating apps and websites.

"In the worst examples we've seen, there have been predators who use these apps simply to gain access to the children of other users,'' she said.

"It is every parent's worst nightmare.

"Don't disclose that you have children or share any information about them, including photos, until you know the person well 'in person'.''

Ms Inman Grant said single parents should "trust their gut feelings'' when chatting to or meeting potential dates.

Single parents often pose with their children on dating apps including Tinder and Bumble.

Tinder allows users to pose with children but its website states that "we do not allow images of unaccompanied minors''.

"If you want to post photos of your children, please make sure that you are in the photo as well,'' it says.

Schoolies organisers recently dumped a sponsorship deal with Tinder after a chorus of criticism over the dating app's hook-up with a teenage event.

Bumble bans photos of children on their own, stating that "they must be in the photo with an adult, and fully clothed''.

RSVP has a dating category for single parents but does not allow photos of children.

Tips for safer online dating

• Take your time getting to know someone

• Limit the information you share, especially about your children

• Don't add them on social media right away

• Only meet them in a public place

• Have your own transport or way home

• Trust your gut feelings

• Report suspicious profiles