Warning - this article discusses sexual abuse.
A sexual violence victim advocate has issued a stark warning to New Zealanders after a man was jailed for trying to buy a child to sexually abuse online.
Ruth Money told Newshub the case is "extreme" - but things like this do happen.
"There's many of us working in the sector telling people this person could be your neighbour, this person could work in your office - sadly these people live and breathe amongst us."
Her comments follow the jailing of 36-year-old Aaron Hutton, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment on Friday.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said Hutton used the Dark Web and "requested child sexual exploitation material from Covert Online Investigators and attempted to meet with and purchase a child for the purposes of sexual exploitation". "Electronic forensic examination by DIA then led to the discovery of over 400 images depicting the sexual exploitation of children."
Money says although Hutton's case is "extreme", it's not unheard of.
- 'Age is only a number', sexual groomer tells undercover cop posing as 14-year-old girl
- 'Extremely dangerous' man wanted over abduction and sexual assault of 17-year-old girl
- 'It made me feel sick': State abuse victims shocked over paedophile at Royal Commission of Inquiry gatherings
- Cardinal found guilty of child sexual assault
"It's most definitely happening and it's most definitely happening more than we are able to catch these people," she told Newshub.
She says the common idea of what a child sex offender looks like is not accurate - and Kiwis need to be vigilant when it comes to protecting their kids,
"People sadly think all sexual abusers of children are dirty, stinky old men who live in a hovel and that is just not true.
"If nothing else we need to hold this man up as an example to educate the community that these predators live and work with us."
To keep kids safe, Money recommends parents remain aware of what their children are doing online and who they're talking to.
- Claims of historical child rape at state-owned care institutions heard
- Father concerned for older students caught up in Marlborough sex teacher's 'nasty pattern'
- Former teacher had sex with students in back seat of car
- Group in French Polynesia jailed over underage sex and drugs
"The online environment is not monitored well. So we need to keep up those checks and balances to keep the kids safe."
If you are the victim of a child abuse crime:
- Child Abuse: Directory for information and support
- Safe to Talk: 0800 044 334 Text 4334
If you are concerned about someone else’s sexual behaviour, you should contact organisations such as:
Or local treatment providers, or specialist therapists.