Why sharing school uniform photos is a bad idea

The AFP is advising parents to review their security settings on their social accounts.

 For parents, documenting their child’s first day of school is an important rite of passage.

It’s tempting to want to share it with the world: that first photo of your little prep student, with their oversized uniform and nervous smile.

But the Australian Federal Police (AFP) this year issued a warning to parents not to post photos of their children on their first day of school without locking down their privacy settings.

The message is important not just on their first day of school but ongoing.

Photos of your child in their uniform gives offenders too much information about your child.

The AFP says images with children in school uniform, their name or indicators of their location in the background can be used by offenders to build a profile and groom parents and children.

The AFP is continuing to regularly seize images of children in the collections of online child sex offenders.

AFP Commander of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Hilda Sirec said the first day of school is a milestone for parents.

“There’s no reason why parents and carers cannot continue to take those 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.”

There’s also a warning for community groups and school’s social media accounts.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

The AFP’s tips for parents

♣ Keep your child’s personal information including full name and age private

♣ Ensure the background of photos or videos doesn’t give away your address or location, (and don’t post your location or ‘check in’)

♣ Avoid posting photos in school uniform

♣ Only share images of your children with people you know and trust

♣ For community accounts, consider having a closed group with approved members and ensure you have strong privacy settings in place.