Aussie mum fears her child targeted by ‘extremely rare’ fetish | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Aussie parents continue to grapple with the best way to raise their children alongside the internet and one mum’s recent experience speaks to every parent’s worst fears.

Mum-of-one Imogen Shepherd owns a cloth nappy business and previously shared images of babies wearing nappies — as well as her own child — on social media frequently. However, recently she was notified that accounts that appeared to be dedicated to paraphilic infantilism were interacting with her content.

“There was pictures of men and women who were dressed as babies in nappies and with dummies,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “I noticed quite a few of these accounts were following my page and commenting on my posts … It made me sick to my stomach.”

Left, Imogen Shepherd said how her child was targeted by fetish groups online and urges parents to not post pictures of their babies in nappies. Right, a picture of the mum with her child, whose face is blurred.

Imogen Shepherd believes her child was targeted by fetish groups online. Source: Imogen Shepherd

Paraphilic infantilism is defined as the sexual desire to be or act like a baby, and often involves those with the fetish wearing a nappy. It is different to pedophilia which is the sexual attraction to children.

Ms Shepherd claims the accounts were deceptive as it was not immediately clear they shared content of this nature, and instead portrayed themselves as “mum and bub” accounts. However, on closer inspection, the content appeared sexual.

“For a few weeks it really impacted me as a mum to see for myself what was going on online,” she said. “I wanted to post content warning parents about the dangers of posting their kids.”

‘Grey area’ of fetish is distressing for most

Ms Shepherd confirmed the accounts only included images of adults but admitted the whole situation made her uncomfortable as the accessories included in the sexualised content are directly associated with babies.

“I don’t want to fetish shame … It’s a grey area, and there is contradicting opinions of whether this is predatory or not. But for me that boundary is crossed when you’re following children’s pages.”

It is believed the fetish is “extremely rare” but there are no direct statistics as many choose not to disclose their participation, with shame often associated with the behaviour. However, the fetish is clearly differentiated from pedophilia, an expert said.

“Paraphilic infantilism has got nothing to do with fantasising or dishonouring children,” sexologist Emily Duncan told Yahoo News. “There is no danger in this unless you’re being distressed yourself in practising it, or it is beginning to harm yourself or somebody else.”

This of course is where the difficulty lies, with Ms Shepherd sharing she herself has been distressed by the situation. The sexologist said it was “hard to comment on this exact circumstance” without speaking to or knowing more about those who run the fetish accounts, but she fully understands why the situation would make many parents uncomfortable.

Ms Shepherd stands by her decision to warn other parents about the incident and believes knowledge is power when it comes to child safety. “Once we know better, we must do better!”

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