Joint release by the eSafety Commissioner and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation
The eSafety Commissioner, in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and the ThinkUKnow program, has developed a guide to help school principals and leadership teams manage incidents involving explicit materials.
Of the reports made to eSafety about intimate images or videos being shared without consent, one third involve children under the age of 18.
“Sadly, young people’s prolific use of the internet makes them a common target of this devastating behaviour, impacting their self-esteem and schoolwork, and creating a lingering fear that these images will be seen by their family and peers”, said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.
“From our experience we also know schools are seeking guidance on how to handle the sharing of explicit material between students – they’re unsure about who to involve and how best to help their students”, Inman Grant said.
eSafety Education: A guide to dealing with the sharing of explicit material at your school has been designed to help school executive respond confidently and effectively to incidents that involve a student’s nude or sexual image/s or video/s being taken, shared or threatened to be shared.
The co-developed guide includes who to involve, where to report, how to deal with the material, and when to consult with police.
“Help is here in more ways than one – we operate one of the only government-led services in the world to remove online image-based abuse material, as well as providing victims with a range of referral and support services”, said Inman Grant.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP welcomed the initiative and said the guide is an important practical tool for educators to help keep children safe online.
“It’s never been more important to equip our teachers with information to mitigate potential online harms. This best practice guide is the latest in a growing number of resources readily available on eSafety.gov.au.”
Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP said the close collaboration between the ACCCE and the eSafety Commissioner was vital to protecting children online.
“The resource demonstrates the strong partnerships the ACCCE has established in its first year. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that our children and the institutions that protect them are equipped to manage and respond to a wide range of online threats. Prevention in respect to the online exploitation of children is our ultimate goal.”
According to the ACCCE, which has responsibility for driving a collaborative National effort to counter child exploitation, the guide will improve the quality and number of reports schools provide to police. Engaging police early, and effectively managing evidence, is beneficial to the investigation process and also supports recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australian Federal Police Acting Manager Child Protection, Marina Simoncini, said: “We encourage students and the wider community to educate themselves on what is inappropriate content to share online; producing, sharing and storing child exploitation material, even if a young person has taken it of themselves, can be an offence”.
Since October 2017, eSafety has received more than 1,600 reports of image-based abuse. If an Australian has had their intimate image or video shared without consent or threatened to be shared online, they can make a report to eSafety, who can help with removal: esafety.gov.au/IBA
There are also resources available on the eSafety (www.esafety.gov.au/education-resources) and ThinkUKnow websites for teachers (www.thinkuknow.org.au/teachers-toolkit), parents and carers (www.esafety.gov.au/parents and www.thinkuknow.org.au/parents-portal), to educate young people on how to stay safe online and prevent them from becoming victims of image-based abuse.
The ACCCE was announced by the Federal Government in March 2018 to drive a collaborative national response to counter the exploitation of children. The ACCCE is built of a foundation of partnership, directly supporting the investigative efforts of the AFP and State and Territory police, and working with a range of public, private, and civil society partners.