The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have warned parents to take care posting photos of their children online by marking their first day of school with locked-down privacy settings.
Commander of the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), Hilda Sirec said the online safety message was timely as many students across the country returned to school.
“The first day of school is a treasured milestone for parents and carers and a happy memory for many families,” Commander Sirec said.
“Parents and carers can continue to take those wonderful happy snaps and post them online,” she said.
“However, we do urge people who are sharing those images to make sure they’re using secure privacy settings on social media and only sharing them with people they know and trust.”
CDR Sirec said ACCCE had seen some offenders go to great lengths to gain access to children and, in some instances, online grooming started with information that parents and carers had shared online.
She said the more information made available about a child online, the easier it could be for offenders to build a profile to groom them, “or even to groom parents in a bid to access information about their children”.
“You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and give them a photo album of your children and tell them their names or location,” CDR Sirec said.
“We all need to remember that in the digital age, that is the equivalent of posting information and images of children online without the appropriate safeguards.”
She also advised parents and carers to avoid posting images of students at the front of homes where a street or street number could be identified.
She said community and school social media pages featuring children were also being urged to consider the types of images shared and who could view them.
“There are easy steps parents and carers can take to have more control over who can access their images and minimise the chance of inappropriate contact,” she said.
“If sharing content of children online, check the privacy settings and make sure that your social media accounts are using the most secure settings possible,” CDR Sirec said.