"These days, they (children) are walking around with an internet tool in their back pocket," Sgt Creedon.

DETECTIVE REVEALS: How predators are targeting our children

AN INTERNATIONALLY popular podcast with links to the Capricorn Coast has people talking, and not just about case of the mysterious disappearance of a teacher's wife in 1982.

The Teacher's Pet podcast, investigated and written by The Australian's investigative journalist Hedley Thomas, is about the mysterious disappearance of Lyn Dawson - a mother of two young girls and wife of high school teacher Chris Dawson.

An undated photo of Chris and Lynette Dawson.
An undated photo of Chris and Lynette Dawson.

The podcast, which can be accessed online at teachers-pet or through podcast apps on your smart device, has captured international attention with over 11 million downloads of the 14 episodes that have been released to date.

Click here to see podcast website: The Teacher's Pet

It covers the story of Lyn who went missing in 1982, leaving everything behind including her daughters, clothes and jewellery.

Her husband moved his then 16-year-old lover, Joanne Curtis, into the family home two days after Lyn's mother last heard directly from the qualified nurse.

Missing woman Lynette Dawson with her daughter.
Missing woman Lynette Dawson with her daughter.

Mr Dawson, who worked at St Ursula's College between 1988-2003, claimed Lyn went off with a religious group and had called in a few times in 1982.

However, no one else heard from Lyn.

The podcast has raised issues with allegations of teachers at Cromer High School, where Mr Dawson taught in 1982 and where Miss Curtis was a student, were having sex with students and accusations of predator behaviour in education institutions.

These allegations have sparked an investigation by New South Wales police.

Related: Why Aussies are obsessed with true crime

In episode 13, a former St Ursula's student talks to Mr Thomas about the behaviour of Mr Dawson towards students at the all-girls school, and concerns she raised back then of grooming.

Lynette Dawson and her husband Christopher Dawson on their wedding day on 26 March, 1970.
Lynette Dawson and her husband Christopher Dawson on their wedding day on 26 March, 1970.

It has sparked discussion about predators, their behaviour and the change in access to their prey in the past 50 or so years.

Queensland Police Service's Detective Sergeant Chris Creedon, who works in the Argus branch, which is responsible for the investigation of online child exploitation and abuse, says the manner in which predators access their prey has changed, however, the illegal acts they commit are still the same.

Sgt Creedon spoke with The Morning Bulletin this month about predators and what family members should watch out for.

Think back. The first time Australian parents became concerned about predators accessing their children was after the four Beaumont children went missing after a day at the beach in South Australia.

Missing Beaumont children Grant, Arnna and Jane.
Missing Beaumont children Grant, Arnna and Jane.

Then, in the 80s, schools pushed the "Stranger Danger" message onto children.

Keyra Steinhardt
Keyra Steinhardt

Research shows that 85 per cent of danger or abuse to children occurs in cases where the child knows the offender, but there have been other cases, including Daniel Morcombe and Keyra Steinhardt where a stranger has abducted, abused and killed the child.



And since the late 90's-early 2000s, as more homes had computers connected to the internet, online predators have been the topic of discussion.

"When we were younger, computers were not an everyday tool," Sgt Creedon said.

"These days, they (children) are walking around with an internet tool in their back pocket.

"We talk a lot about the physical world (to today's children) but not so much about the cyber world.

"Contact these days doesn't need to be physical."

Sgt Creedon's message to parents was this: "Would you take your child to the middle of the Queen Street Mall on a Friday night and let them make their way home?"

He said parents need to think about this when thinking about their child/ren accessing cyberspace as this was what the cyber world equates to in the physical world.

Sgt Creedon said the change comes with predators able to access multiple victims through the internet, through a number of platforms from Snapchat to Facebook.

"It doesn't matter what the platform is," he said.

"It's about building a relationship."

Sgt Creedon said parents who see changes in their child/ren's behaviour, such as becoming withdrawn, personality changes, wanting to meet up with people the parents have never heard about before and asking about things they wouldn't normally ask or talk about.

"Sometimes, it's a case of parents having that open line of communication," he said

"It's not unusual these days for a child to self-report suspicious online interaction."

Sgt Creedon said parents could push the message to their kids that they should be friends online with anyone they don't know in the physical world and they don't have to share anything with anyone online just because they are asked to - they can say no.

He said children aren't the only people being preyed upon online.

"There are actual syndicates out their grooming adults," Sgt Creedon said.

He said those syndicates get their targets to participate in activities or share information or data that leaves them in a compromising position and then the offenders blackmail them.