Monday, March 13, 2017

What predators look for when you post photos of your children.

Posting seemingly innocent photos of your child or teen has a sinister outcome that you may never have considered.

WARNING: 
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS ADULT CONCEPTS AND EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS


Your child or teen could be a poster child for a pedophile ring - and you may never know.
Australia made world news in 2016 with a website trading explicit photos of local school girls.   The site even had pages dedicated to local Brisbane and Gold Coast high schools and fan pages - offering money to men who could find more explicit photos of their favourites.

Attempts to close down the site have been thwarted in a brazen disregard of the law.  And these girls, whose images have been used without consent, could be to this day, oblivious.

Police CANNOT ALWAYS LOCATE YOU if photos of your children have been found to be used in connection with pedophile rings.  Due to the ability to mask IP addresses and identities with overseas servers and false identities it is not always possible to link an identity to these photos.  There are even sites dedicated to teaching online predators how to cover their tracks.

A photo of your child could be part of a pedophilia ring that has been uncovered by Police, and you wont even know about it.

The Task Force I worked for busts pedophile rings - and makes arrests of pedophiles in our neighbourhood.  This article is an insight into what they do, and how close to your home they come to arrest offenders.



A pedophile or predator will not play fair, nor think like the average person.  They therefore look at images and their erotic 'potential' differently to how the average population does.

Here are some things that pedophiles may find attractive when looking at photos on social media:

  • The obvious stuff - like children in bathers, underwear, having a bath, or in a state of undress.   Even well placed emoticons covering your child's genitals can be photoshopped off and genitals photoshopped back on to increase the 'value' of the photo. You can take me to South Bank beach at Brisbane on any given day and I will be able to point out lone males taking photos of children.... your children.   And yes - Police do patrol this and regularly confiscate cameras and phones.  I have seen it happen meters away from parents and they are completely and utterly oblivious.  The Police do not have to approach the parents, because it is not an element of the offence to have a complainant.  Importantly, there is rarely time in these situations to locate and talk to the parents about what has just happened - Police are too busy dealing with the offender.
  • The less obvious stuff that predators find irresistible: like photos that they can alter to make your child or teen look they are part of a sexual act.   These photos can be altered to have a male person in the photo in a state of arousal.  Or they can simply overlay a lewd comment so that the photo becomes a pedophile photo 'meme'.
  • Children of social media celebrities.  The more photos posted, and the more coverage the images gain, the more likely they are to come to the attention to pedophile groups and be subjected to their monstrous conversations and attentions.  Similar to a teenage crush of a pop star, these photos become a platform for imaginings, fantasies and lewd behaviours.  The internet has now allowed predators to openly discuss their fetishes, and because they have the support of their monstrous tribe, they now have a place to 'normalise' and 'strategise' dysfunctional thoughts and fantasies.

Things to consider when posting photos of your children:

  • Is there enough room to 'superimpose' another figure into the image?*
  • Are they in a state of undress (even with emoticons placed modestly - these can be removed and body parts can be photo shopped in).
  • Do you have a public social media page?  Pedophiles can develop 'child crushes' and the child does not have to be posed or in a state of undress for the photo to become a commodity.

*  I used to pray that when I saw a photo of a baby in a nappy and a sexually aroused man in the image that the image was 'superimposed'.  I didn't always receive this comfort from the government classifier or the photographic specialists.   This is is the horrific reality of child sex crimes and trafficking in the 21st century.  There is one photo in particular that I remember which causes me pain daily - a 6 month old in just a nappy with the most beautiful angelic smile laying on a bed - and a naked man entering the babies bedroom.   This child looked like my babies - your babies.  And the horror that I could not reach through that screen and save that child scratches at my brain.

Things to be considered with your teens social media images:

  1. Duck faces and posed photos are used as baseline trading images on predator sites.
  2. Swimwear and underwear shots become more valuable.
  3. If their account is public then the predator 'ring' can approach friends (or enemies) of the teen and pay money for more explicit photos.

It has taken over a decade for me to write this post because I know that I will have re-visted images and situations from my career that haunt me.  There was a time when I would physical hit my head and moan to stop the memories - but I hope that I have now developed better coping strategies.   I now have a practice of offering it 'up', or surrender.  I take the time to do a short meditation where I hand the image and the horror over.  This then allows me to focus on the present.   If it re-surfaces I repeat... repeat, repeat repeat - just like my rules of self defence.  Because to submit is not an option for me - or my children.

If you have been affected by this article please make an appointment with your GP.

Or ring lifeline.  Or the sexual assault helpline.

Here are some things you may need to know when reporting sexual abuse.



Empower yourself and your family with an online interactive self defence e-book.
Because self defence isn't something that you had 'wished' you had learned.

41 comments:

Kate said...

Is this still an issue if your social media settings are set to private or 'friends only'?

Anonymous said...

I suppose if you tag a friend, then they are visible to their friends. And if your account gets hacked everything can be made public, shared & spread...

Jennifer Carman said...

I was wondering the same thing. I have my account totally private and only people I actually know are on it.

Anonymous said...

Even with private setting one can view yout profile. Its a misconception that people cannot. Its visible. Google it amd you will know how!!!

Anon said...

My facebook account is private too but one of my friends accidentally shared one of my posts of a photo when i know they really meant to hit like. That then meant all of his facebook friends (most of whom I do not know), then saw my posted photo on his feed.

Also in instagram you can make your account private but the second you add a hashtag it becomes a public photo. Most people don't know this.

If it is online. Consider it not private. Even if you have it set to private.

Laura said...

I think about this all the time as a blogger but seeing it written down like this makes me think so much more. It's a scary world but thank you for sharing, it's really helpful and shows I really didn't have much idea about what goes on.

Anonymous said...

Only mutual friends can see a photo that is for "friends" if someone shares it.

maya gabriel said...

Nothing on the Internet is private. Nothing.
It's disgusting that there are men with such disfunction.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting that women have a similar disfunction. It just isn't seen as nearly as vile because women are not usually seen as aggressive monsters. Though there aren't as many women pedophiles as men, generally their acts are dismissed and their victims are seen as "lucky." I find that almost nauseating...when a child is a victim of a woman, and their loss of innocence is trivialized and downplayed.

Nurtac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nurtac said...

How do hashtags work for private photos?

If your account is set to private and you add a hashtag to your post, the post won't appear publicly on the corresponding hashtag page. Only your approved followers will be able to see your posts on hashtag pages or in Instagram Direct messages.

Source: instagram

Anonymous said...

yes it is as friends of friends can often see things, share it unknowingly, and end up in the wrong hands.

Anonymous said...

And God has a HellFire for these sick creeps to get roasted thru and thru! You NEVER get away with ANYthing you do wrong. Trust and believe that.

saraaghelise said...

Private hashtags on Instagram can only be seen by approved followers but the main thing to remember here is, you may think you know your friends and followers but not all can be trusted and there is a lot of people out there that will send photos for money even as revenge. It's wrong and horrific but there isn't a whole lot to stop it except be mindful of the photos you post.

Lisa Westgate said...

Great blog piece Erin. And how very brave of you to write this despite the emotional pain of reliving this part of your life, exposed to this. Please don't hesitate to get in touch regarding further development of those coping strategies. More can be done. Regards Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is secure on the Internet and that is official

Anonymous said...

Please, please turn off the GPS function on your phone. It puts the GPS coordinate in the unseen properties function of the picture! Take a picture of your child at school, they can find the school. Take a picture of your child at their favorite fast food place or playground, they can find it. Take a picture of your child in their bedroom and they have your address!! Turn GPS off and protect your children!!

DATCHICWITHSHADES said...

To single,lonely mums as well. Never accept a friend request from strange men...I have received requests from random men, there is a trend where they friend single mums to get to their children...one of the tell tail signs of a sexual predator is their photo's and friend lists, you will see either very little information is given about them or they have a lot of photo's of female friends some are dressed very provocatively, they don't have many male friends...they may be after you or your children, they have pictures of themselves with fancy cars and houses, this is a lure.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying this for years about posting your kids pic as a profile pic.
They can study your FB and find out your habits, especially when you leave the house, and when your kid is home alone. I don't have or want kids but at the same time I don't want to see bad things happen to them.

Sam Posselt said...

Well written, thank you for sharing this information.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article. I have two boys 11 and 10 and while they have access to the internet at home, I have so far managed to keep them, relatively, isolated from social media, and manage their internet access with a relatively stringent program. I was also moved by how you experienced some reactions to the "flashbacks" of your past experiences. I would recommend a course of TRE for that. TRE, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercise, is a physically based methodology for releasing trauma stored in the tissues of your body. Good luck, and thank you.

Unknown said...

So you have accessed child porn yourself why should you not be charged

Anonymous said...

Not if your settings are high enough and not set to friends of friends and just friends and you can also see who sees things when friends are tagged in it.

Anonymous said...

If someone shares your photo and it's set to private then no one will see it. Unless you have mutual friends.

Anonymous said...

She worked for a task force which bust paedophile rings. It was part of her job to investigate and then arrest the perpetrators.

Anonymous said...

She stated she worked on a task force that busts pedophile rings...... Duh...

Anonymous said...

Not to mention, one doesn't always know who the pedophiles are. It could be your neighbor or best friend's husband

Anonymous said...

im deleting my childrens pics right now

Anonymous said...

Yes. Any of your friends could be part of these "rings" unfortunately nothing is really "safe"

Anonymous said...

Even if your profile is private, friends can share your pictures "externally" (effectively downloading and reuploading them). You will not be notified when this happens as the new upload is completely separate from your original post.

Monique Hodgson said...

Any photograph you post on social media, can end up anywhere. It's less likely if you have tightly managed privacy settings, but it's still very easy to copy, download, or screenshot ANY image on social media.

Brooke Francis said...

Nothing is ever "private" on the internet, regardless of your settings.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not totally private. There's still half a dozen photos anyone can see.

Anonymous said...

Yes, as you cannot be 100% certain that you don't have a predator on your list of friends.

Anonymous said...

The other frightening thing to remember is that pedophiles do not wear identification. You may have the highest privacy standards on your facebook page but unbeknown to you, you may actually be 'friends' with a pedophile. It's enough to make you sick really....

Anonymous said...

How do I know or who do I let know that my ex husband would know how to do this sort of thing and yes we did take him thou the court system for sexually abusing my Daughter he never done time . I worry everyday that he is still out there and I just know he is still doing it .I hope someone is watching him ?

PatriciaSmith said...

You shouldn't post any photos of your kids in a public forum, or wearing skimpy clothing - dot, but I think the fear of posting them to friends only is a bit extreme, yes, one of your "friends", or their friends or family members who has access to their computer, could be in one of these rings, but as the article points out, even if you never post any photos you could end up with photos of your child taken at a beach, or at the park, without your knowledge or permission. There are photos of children everywhere, on children products, if you're careful and sensible the chance the risk to your child is small. If you want to keep your children safe then don't let your children out of your sight.

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