It is an issue more people need to be aware of.
Young people and online safety.
That is, according to Hume LAC school liaison police youth command Gary Mutton who spoke to a small group of engrossed parents and students on Tuesday night.
Sexual grooming, cyber bullying, sharing inappropriate photos, fake online profiles : these are all issues in the eyes of the NSW and Australian Federal Police.
According to Mr Mutton, there is a preliminary question every parent must ask – why is their child, some as young as 10, creating social media profiles online?
“Things have changed so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up. Kids are going to make mistakes and parent need to try to help them through that, teach them what they’ve done is wrong and ways they can fix the problem.”
“A common question a lot of parents and adults have is that they don’t know why kids are using it. Some just stick their heads in the sand.”
Mr Mutton, who covers the Hume and the Monaro LAC, is the only officer on duty who responds to social media cases - keeping constant communication with schools and police stations across the local area command.
He said it was explicit photos, such as nudes, that were most prevalent in high schools today.
According to him, many photos are posted online, as quickly as it was taken. Apps such as Snapchat, particularly popular among teens, is fueling this behaviour.
“Stop, look at what’s in the photo. Does it give away any information? Does it show an identifier about your school or your home?” he said.
“Possessing, passing on or creating nude photography can land you 10 years in prison. The law sees this as child pornography. This is the biggest problem we have with young people under 18.”
Working closely with secondary schools, he acknowledged many were taking charge of cyber bullying and social media in house.
“Every child is different, It’s getting better and improving. Some smaller towns have no problem at all. If it becomes a problem younger users are advised to block, build resilience and talk about it. There is always support to be found,” he said.
The one hour session was led by NSW Police in partnership with PCYC.
- To find out more on online safety, head to http://www.thinkuknow.org.au/.