POLICE have urged teens and parents to be vigilant after an upsurge in predatory behaviour online during the COVID-19 crisis.
Macedon Ranges Detective Sergeant Ivan Bobetic said the police had found one or two people in his area had engaged with predators online.
Detective Sergeant Bobetic said the issue was taking place across the state, and the country, more broadly.
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He urged parents to monitor their children's social media use closely.
Detective Sergeant Bobetic said normally a predator would send out hundreds of friend requests to a broad range of people, hoping that one or two would bite.
"That's what we've found, that one or two people in the Macedon Ranges have bitten, if you like, and started to engage with these [people] who we believe to be predators," he said.
"It's either friend requests or a follow request. And we're finding that a couple of young kids are getting caught up in it."
Detective Sergeant Bobetic said parents normally found out about this and reported it to police. If there was a grooming element to these incidents police initiated an investigation, he said.
He said it was generally newer, less experienced users of social media who were being caught up.
Detective Sergeant Bobetic said predatory behaviour online had been reported more frequently since COVID-19 came around, but was an ongoing problem.
He said more people were online at the moment than normal.
"From law enforcement across the country there is concerns relating to increased prevalence of online predatory behaviours," he said.
"We're seeing it on the front line, that there are more and more people coming forward."
Detective Sergeant Bobetic said all social media platforms had the same issues.
He urged young people to avoid following or friending anyone who they did not know.
"If you don't know them, if it's a name or a contact that you're unfamiliar with, simply don't respond at all," he said.
"Don't engage with them, don't respond to them, just ignore them.
"What we think is happening is that a particular young person is not being specifically targeted, however the online predator will throw out hundreds of hooks, hoping that one or two will bite."
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