Police Warn Parents Against Back-To-School Photo Trend Used By Predators
Parents have been warned by police to not take part in the trend of posting back-to-school photos, as it could make their kids an easy target for predators.
Illinois police and safety experts have urged parents to be mindful of what they post on social media, as they could risk oversharing information about their children such as their name, age, teacher, grade and school, all of which could then be used by predators.
The McHenry Country Sheriff’s Office in Woodstock have subsequently shared an image of what to look out for and how to post responsibly to avoid such targeting.
On August 8, a picture of Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton was shared to Facebook to alert parents to what sort of information is suitable to share and what information could lead to them being targeted by predators.
The post is titled: ‘THINK BEFORE YOU SHARE: Back to School Photos.’ It shows Creighton standing with a poster marked as ‘incorrect’ on the left, displaying mock information about his age and grade and school, versus a similar image on the right that has specific information blurred out and is labelled as the ‘correct’ image.
The post notes how such images are ‘filling social media feeds everywhere’ and often reveal ‘personal information’ that could be used by ‘predators, scammers, and other people looking to endanger your child, family or finances’.
The police service recommends that, despite parent’s ‘privacy settings or friends list’, it is safest and ‘best’ to make sure personal information is only shared to a ‘bare minimum’ on the internet.
The post has since amassed over thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, with other Facebook users taking to the comments to praise the advice. One said: ‘Love this! Thanks for sharing. This is the best police back-to-school post I’ve seen.’
Great reminder! Also don’t put your child’s name on the outside of their backpack… a predator can just yell ‘hey Toivo come with me – your Dad told me to pick you up’… write the child’s name inside personal items such as backpacks, lunchboxes, jackets etc. Keep the children safe!
A third commented: ‘Congrats Tim for protecting our children, families and community! BTW very handsome deputy.’
Creighton went on to tell Fox News the reasons for omitting such information can be down to things such as ‘cyber security, internet password fraud, sex trafficking… there’s a lot’.
President and CEO of a non-profit organisation called Enough is Enough, Donna Rice Hughes, agreed with the Deputy. The organisation seeks to maximize internet safety for children and prevent exploitation online. ‘Predators prey where kids play,’ she said.
She advised that conversations around internet safety should be started young, and that children should be able to go to an adult if they don’t feel safe. Hughes also suggested internet use should be monitored.
She stressed that no child is immune from being exploited, so parents should communicate with them regularly about the internet. Enough is Enough also has an Internet Safety 101 for helpful tips for staying safe online.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
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Fox 32 Chicago
McHenry County Sheriff's Office