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Sick Porn Traps Snaring Children

Innocent internet searches are exposing primary school children to sexually explicit images as pornographic websites muscle their way into computer search engines.
Leading web site developers, computer consultants and child-protection advocates have confirmed that accidental exposure to pornography is increasing.
They warn it is the result of the growing intellectual and financial power of porn sites.
The sites employ technicians who know the key words to place on web pages to attract search engines and bypass internet filters.
In a recent example, students researching a school project on developing countries typed the name of an African country into a search engine and were confronted by images of men having sex.
Another student who entered her own name into a search was linked to the website of a porn star.
"It's fairly scary for kids . . . very confronting for them to see this sort of stuff," Gold Coast web designer Brendon Sinclair said.
"It's one of the disappointing things about the web. It's such a fantastic search tool, but its strength is also its weakness. It's so open to information.
"The porn sites put so many resources into developing their web pages. They know how to muscle in on search engines. The financial benefits to them are just so massive."
Mr Sinclair said the latest research conducted for the computer industry showed the average age for a child being exposed to pornography on the internet was 11.
An Australia Institute study of 200 teenagers last year found almost half of them had accidentally accessed porn sites.
Governments are under increasing pressure to legislate for internet service providers to apply filters to sex sites.
"Education is the key and parental monitoring and the use of filters," Mr Sinclair said.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston warned any child using the internet was going to be exposed to pornography.
"The net is a devil's playground," she said.
Ms Johnston said she had just written the foreword to a new book called Protecting You in Cyberspace, by Brisbane computer author and IT consultant Jeff Garner, who warns about the increasing number of pornography pitfalls.
Mr Garner urges parents and schools to ensure they are using the best parental control software on their computers.
"It's definitely happening. People have to be aware of these things, stop it and take some control," he said.

The Sunday Mail-Qld (2-10-2005)
Paul Weston


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