POLICE are warning parents not to post photos of their children without locking down online privacy settings.
They say images of children in school uniform, their names, or place names in the background, can be used to build a profile and groom both parents and children.
The advice comes as the Australian Federal Police report regularly seizing images of children on the computers of online child sex offenders.
Commander of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Hilda Sirec said the back-to-school time was a timely reminder to implement safe online practices.
Commander Sirec said parents continue to take “wonderful happy snaps and post them online”. “However, we are urging parents and carers who are sharing those images to make sure they’re using secure privacy settings and only sharing images with people they know and trust.”
Photos posted online as their child begins school can reveal a lot of personal information and travel more widely than intended, she said.
Community and school social media pages featuring children are also being urged to consider the types of images being shared and who can view them.
“Some offenders go to great lengths to access children and the AFP is seeing instances of online grooming starting from the information that parents and carers are sharing online,” Command Sirec said.
“It is more important than ever to ensure parents, carers and our young people are educated about online safety.”
More children going online during the pandemic year has also meant offenders have more opportunities to target potential victims.
Tips for parents and carers:
- Keep your child’s personal information, including full name and age, private
- Ensure the background of photos or videos doesn’t give away an address or location, and don’t post your location or ‘check in’
- Avoid posting photos in school uniform
- Only share images of children with people you know and trust
Community posts should consider being a closed group with only-approved members and strong privacy settings in place.
If a child is in imminent danger, call 000 or visit the nearest police station.
If a child is experiencing issues online, it is essential to collect evidence, such as taking screenshots or photos of the content.
Once the evidence is collected, block and report on the app, site or platform where the issue occurred.
Online child sexual exploitation can be reported to accce.gov.au/report or to Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.