Canberrans allegedly caught up in underage web sexual imagery ring

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NEWS.COM.AU have broken a story on Australian schools forming part of a ring sharing underage sexual imagery of students.

The Principal of Gungahlin College Heather Paterson has sent out this note to parents:

Dear Parents, Guardian, Students

This morning I was alerted to a report of a perverse pornography ring targeting 70 schools across Australia. Disturbingly, our college was one of five schools reportedly targeted in the ACT, on News.com. This report is now a police matter.

It is devastating to see our college mentioned in this way and the allegation that some of our students could be participating in this ring is completely unacceptable. This is a very serious issue and our priority at this time must be for the welfare of all our students and cooperating in any way with the police investigation. Gungahlin College will continue to place the welfare of students as our highest priority .

We know that students access a wide range of digital material outside the school environment and our digital program aims to equip children and young people with safe online behaviours to help guide their personal interactions online. Notwithstanding this, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our students are engaging in safe and respectful relationships with others regardless of the context. Our Safe and Supportive Schools policy clearly articulates our expectations and the role of Canberra Public Schools to provide a safe, respectful and supportive school environment. We continue to build self awareness, self management, social awareness and social management capabilities of students to engage in respectful relationships.

Our expectations of students in relation to the use of ICT at school for educational purposes is very clear and all students are required to adhere to the acceptable use of IT policy. Any breach of this will be reported immediately. This extends to students personal devices and cellular networks.

There are a range of resources available to assist parents and students on cyber safety, http://www.education.act.gov.au/teaching_and_learning/learn-anywhere-ict-for-students/keeping-safe-online.

I am seeking your cooperation in sharing any information relating to this issue with ACT Police on 131 444. Parents and students are encouraged to contact me, an associate principal, or our Student Services team if additional information or support may be required.

The directorate and the school will assist police in this investigation in any way possible to ensure that all our students remain safe. We will keep our community updated on this issue if more information becomes available to us.

Yours sincerely

Heather

Heather Paterson| Principal

The five local colleges identified by news.com.au are:

  • Canberra College
  • Gungahlin College
  • Radford College
  • St Clares College Canberra
  • St Mary MacKillop College

Shane Rattenbury has announced his views:

The discovery of a pornography ring targeting young school girls (including students at at least 5 Canberra Schools) is highly disturbing.

The young men involved in this activity need to know that their behaviour is not only illegal but completely deplorable and as a community we must condemn this activity.

The fact that they have engaged in this activity against their peers is even more disturbing – these are their friends, girlfriends and sisters.

We must condemn any activity that harms, victimises or threatens the safety of women or perpetuates rape culture. Our young men need to do better. What is devastating is that this is clearly a cultural issue and not an isolated event as it is occurring in schools across the country. Clearly more focus is needed on continuing to educate young men about how to treat women with respect.

It is also important that we support the school communities as they come to terms with this type of activity occurring within their school. Additional supports are available for students and staff who are impacted. Those in need of assistance are encouraged to contact their school.

If you or someone you know believe they might be a victim, you should contact the police on 131 444. If you have any information that could assist police, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 330 000 or act.crimestoppers.com.au.

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