Parents need to ensure their privacy settings are bolstered before posting their child’s back-to-school photos online.
That’s the advice from the Australian Federal Police ahead of students returning to the classroom later this month.
While many parents share pictures of their children in uniform or at school, AFP Commander Helen Schneider says the photos can end up in the wrong hands.
“We have seen instances of otherwise innocent images being used in child exploitation material or offenders using information from photos, such as school uniforms, to identify and groom children,” Ms Schneider said.
“While these incidents are rare, they do happen, which is why we are urging families to be proactive with online safety and keep their information safe.”
Before posting any photos online, parents should go through a privacy checklist.
That includes checking all social media accounts are set to private or ‘friends only’ mode and picking photo backgrounds that don’t give away any addresses or locations.
A child’s school logo should also remain hidden in any images and their age or full name should not be posted online.
“Prevention is key to minimising inappropriate contact or the sharing of images online,” Ms Schneider said.
More advice for parents, including a security checklist, can be found on the AFP-led online program ThinkUKnow.
“(It’s) a great resource to help you develop good online habits that protect your children and deter offenders,” Ms Schneider said.
It comes after the AFP issued a warning around sextortion or where offenders coerce children into sending sexual images before threatening to share the images unless their demands are met.
About 300 cases of children falling victim to sextortion are reported nationally each month, the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation said.
If someone does fall victim to sextortion, AFP experts advise not sending any more content or paying as it could lead to further demands.
Victims are advised to take screenshots of chats for a police report, block any profiles soliciting content and notify platform administrators.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)
(Australian Associated Press)