AFP reminds parents to think before posting back-to-school images online

The AFP is urging parents to lock down their privacy settings on social media accounts and limit the information they share about their children online, including posting pictures of students in their school uniforms.

Back-to-school is a proud time for parents and children, some who are wearing school uniforms for the first time.

The AFP wishes all students are happy and safe 2022 but is reminding parents to take a few simple steps to protect their children.

Parents are encouraged to lock down privacy settings on their social media accounts, and avoid posting the full name of their children and their address. Posting images of children in school uniforms can also identify what school they attend.

AFP Commander for 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 prepared to return 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. 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.”

AFP child protection investigators regularly seize images of children in the collections of online child sex offenders.

“We have seen some offenders go to great lengths to gain access to children and in some instances, online grooming has started with information that parents and carers have shared online,” Commander Sirec said.

“The more information available about a child online, the easier it can 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.

“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.”

The AFP also advises parents to avoid posting images of students at the front of homes that can identify a street or street number.

Community or school social media pages featuring children are also being urged to consider the types of images being shared and who can view them.

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