Parents targeted in online dating by child sex offenders

The Australian Institute of Criminology says child sex offenders are targeting parents on online dating platforms.
online dating sex offenders

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) says child sex offenders are targeting parents on online dating platforms.

It’s reported evidence of offenders asking users for child abuse material. It also reported parents being pressured to send sexual images of their children.

An AIC survey of nearly 10,000 online dating users found more than 12% received a request from another user to facilitate child sexual exploitation in 2022.

Further, nearly two-thirds of these requests offered payment in exchange for child sexual abuse material.


The AIC said: “Recent research has found that offenders use dating apps and websites to target potential child and adult victims.”

It identified over 1,200 dating app users who had received requests for child exploitation material in 2022. Nearly half said they felt pressured to provide “sexual images of their children or children they had access to.”

Additionally, almost 70% of these users told the AIC they had been asked sexualised questions about children they were in contact with.

At-risk groups

The report found certain users were more likely to encounter sex offenders asking to facilitate child exploitation. Specifically, people who lived with children or had their social media accounts linked to their online dating profile.

It’s prompted calls from the AIC for dating apps to disable connectivity features. Such as allowing users to link their social media account to their dating profile.

First Nations people and users with health conditions were also more at risk of being contacted for child abuse material.

Code of practice

The AIC findings follow calls by the Federal Government last year. It had called for the online dating industry to create a voluntary code of practice, including safety standards.

Companies who choose to sign up to the code, expected to be released in June, will be required to implement better protections for users.


The Opposition has criticised the Government for not doing enough to improve user safety online.

It’s called for the eSafety Commissioner to be given stronger powers to take action against harmful online content.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the government will “consider legislative options” if online dating providers do not improve user safety.

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