How predators target your kids on first day of school


Police who pursue paedophiles are urging parents to think carefully before posting pictures on social media of their child's first day of school after finding innocent snaps in predators' collections.

Experts say proud mothers and fathers are unwittingly revealing where their kids are going to be 200 days a year by, for example, showing logos on uniforms.

With the addition of full names in captions, families are making themselves targets for grooming.

Offenders can use the information revealed to befriend parents online by saying things such as "my child goes to the same school and is the same class."

The Australian Federal Police said it was okay to share images, but only with trusted family and friends.

The key message - prevention is the best way to minimise risk.

As part of this, it is vital to ensure the most secure privacy settings are in use.

AFP Commander of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Hilda Sirec warned parents not to post photos of their kids' first day of school without locking down access.

AFP Commander Hilda Sirec. Picture: Twitter
AFP Commander Hilda Sirec. Picture: Twitter

The centre's 'triage unit' has seen examples of paedophiles having images of kids in school uniform in their collections.

"Some offenders go to great lengths in order to gain access to children and the AFP is seeing instances of online grooming starting from the information that parents and carers are sharing online," Ms Sirec said.

"It is more important than ever to ensure parents, carers and our young people are educated about online safety. The increase of children being online during the pandemic year has also meant offenders have more opportunities to target potential victims."



Australian Computing Academy academic director James Curran said many parents would not write a post that conveyed the personal detail disclosed in a picture they willingly put on the web.

"People don't think about what information they are providing in a photo," Associate Professor Curran said.

University of Sydney Associate Professor James Curran. Picture: Supplied
University of Sydney Associate Professor James Curran. Picture: Supplied

He recommended blurring school crests and logos in images, or taking shots that didn't reveal the name or location of a school.

Mr Curran said posting first-day pictures without adequate care also created a future risk for the child.

The name of the first school a person attended remained a common account security question, he said, despite no longer being best practice.

Another was date of birth - information mums and dads often gave away in their social media feeds.

"Parents will often be one of the main culprits when it comes to leaking personally identifiable information," Mr Curran said.

The warnings come after Facebook last week conceded publicly for the first time that its plans to roll out end-to-end encryption across all its platforms would help child abusers.

The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has previously reported that Facebook accounts for 94 per cent of all online child abuse reports and that globally, about three-quarters of this would vanish under the social media giant's proposed encryption enhancements.

Originally published as How predators target your kids on first day of school