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What to do if your child is a victim of cyber crime

As the lockdown finish-line seems further away for some, South African children in grades 7 and 12 will be returning to school as of 01 June 2020. While several mixed emotions are surrounding this decision, many parents have declared that their children will stay at home and repeat the school year while others have dumped the idea of traditional schooling altogether and are now considering homeschooling their children. Of course, there is a risk associated with every decision, especially if you opt for homeschooling your child using online platforms. Since this is very new to all of us, there is a lot that we will have to get acquainted with, but what can you do if your child is a victim of cybercrime? By cybercrime, I mean primarily online impersonation, cyberstalking, trolling (cyberbullying) and even online sexual grooming by cyber predators.

Cybercrime, computer-enabled crimes or criminal activities perpetuated electronically are not easily prosecuted in South Africa (SA). This is because SA has not yet promulgated its Cybercrimes Bill, which is still sitting with the Select Committee on Security and Justice in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). So, it is even more important that you preserve all electronic evidence before you rush to the police to report the detestable crime(s), but before you do, consider the following:

Report the user

If the perpetrator is harassing your children on any of the major social media platforms you can report the user. Major social media platforms or educational platforms have strong policies against trolling, online impersonation even online sexual grooming. By reporting the user request that an investigation is initiated based on the crime that your child has suffered. That way you have more evidence that can be presented to the police.

Screenshot everything

Any activity that takes place online is easily wiped remotely. Screenshots will help secure the evidence before it is removed or whipped. Make sure you capture the date and time of the messages and capture as much information as possible including when the profile was registered, who the friends are, how often they post, the location of the user and any contact information that would lead the police closer to the perpetrator.

Reporting the case the police

It is important to note that not all police understand what cybercrime is. In other instances, the police may turn you away because they believe there is no case. Like I said earlier, this is all new to all of us. So, go prepared. Print out all your screenshots and make sure you narrate exactly how they relate to the case. Once an Investigating officer is allocated to the case make sure you follow with new or other relevant information to assist the investigation.

Educate your child

Do not neglect having conversations with your children about the dangers of being online. This is very important because you want your children to approach you should something happen. But if you are like me, give your child options and introduce them to other platforms like the ChildLine, or ask a close friend or relative to have the occasional conversation with your children.

I hope you all keep safe during this time, this certainly comes first and is a priority now.

Lerato Mpobane is the Group Chief Executive of Bokang Africa Group, a boutique group of firms, each anchored in magnifying the facets of fraud, corruption and other serious or violent crimes. A well-respected security researcher, she specialises in developing policies and systems to combat cybercrime, she also helps businesses understand their security posture by identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Lerato also serves as the Gauteng Regional Treasurer for The Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (TAPSOSA).

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