Predator cases all too familiar

IS ANY punishment sufficient for an adult who uses social media to prey on innocent and impressionable young girls?This is a real-life issue that continues to plague communities across Australia.A computer or mobile phone are the weapons of choice for those who prey on these young girls.The reach of such weapons allows predators to groom potential victims anytime and anywhere.Take Frankston band manager John Zimmerman who used these social media devices to coerce young girls into sexually explicit conversations, getting naked on web cameras and sex. Investigators found 55 of Zimmerman’s victims aged between 12 and 17 across four Australian states. Disturbingly, they predicted the media attention surrounding the case would bring more victims forward.Thankfully, Zimmerman was caught and his predator lifestyle will see him spend the next 16 years in jail.The Wimmera city of Horsham experienced its own predator in 2008.Mark Weaver pleaded guilty to 27 charges relating to child pornography, indecent assault and having sex with a child under 16. Weaver preyed on his victim through an internet chatroom. He then showered the girl with 8492 phone calls and text messages between November 2006 and April 2007.In all, the pair exchanged 12,939 texts and phone calls in that period. Their relationship stopped when the girl’s mother became aware of the messages and called police.These are just two of many cases that have surfaced with the popularity of social media technology. Sadly, there are many other such stories in many communities.How many more predators are out there working on their next victim?Much good work is being done by police units to catch these predators and by support agencies to educate young people about the dangers posed by social media.But as the Mark Weaver case proved, ultimately it’s wary parents who can play the biggest role in stopping them.