It is wise to be wary of giving advice to parents about bringing up their children. Otherwise there is a risk of being seen to trespass upon parental prerogative, especially in moral, ethical or religious matters. But concerns about the safety and welfare of young people may justify an exception to this rule. An increase in online child pornography and sex crimes when the pandemic kept children at home raises a case in point. This has prompted a senior police officer and social welfare officer to urge parents to engage more actively on sensitive topics such as sex education. According to police, children as young as seven are increasingly becoming victims of these offences. The force also said cases of “sextortion”, in which victims aged 12 to 64 were blackmailed after compromising online chats were recorded, jumped from 171 last year to 616 between January and September this year. Unlawful sexual intercourse with girls under 16 rose from 71 in the first nine months of last year to 85 in the same period this year, and the number of abusers who found their prey online rose from 25 to 38. “The situation is alarming,” said Chief Inspector Cheung Po-yuet of the police’s Family Conflict and Sexual Violence Policy Unit. Cheung said in many cases of unlawful sexual intercourse, the victims made friends with strangers via online games. They would then be invited to play online at the men’s flats. Some victims would only tell their parents after they got pregnant. Others would only talk to school social workers, instead of their parents. In pornography cases involving nude photographs, many abusers found their prey via dating apps. “Parents need talk to their children with an open attitude and give them proper sex education,” Cheung said. Chang Lam Sook-yee, a senior officer at the Social Welfare Department, said children were curious when stuck at home. “Parents need to develop a good relationship with their children so the teenagers will be more willing to share their lives with them.” All of that said, parental prerogative and responsibility in moral guidance, including sex education, remains paramount. Nowadays, however, that includes heeding warnings about the dangers of immersion of children in an online world exploited by criminal elements. Our young are too precious to be left exposed to predators.