POLICE have warned that teenagers posting explicit images of underage peers to a secret website could be charged and end up with a criminal record.
The Herald reported on Wednesday that members of a pornography ring using a secret website to exchange explicit images of non-consenting women reportedly had students from eight Hunter and Central Coast schools in their sights.
A NSW Police spokesperson said the Sex Crimes Squad Child Exploitation Internet Unit was aware of the website and detectives were liaising with law enforcement colleagues in other jurisdictions and making inquiries to determine if any offences have been committed in NSW.
“Anyone with information that may assist with their inquiries is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” the statement said.
“It is a criminal offence to take, transmit, or possess images that are considered child pornography (of a person under 18 years).
“This also applies to teenagers who are reminded that the dissemination of any material depicting nudity or sexual activity involving young people could constitute a criminal offence.
“They should be aware they could be arrested and charged and if convicted end up with a criminal record.”
EARLIER: MEMBERS of a pornography ring using a secret website to exchange explicit images of non-consenting women reportedly had students from eight Hunter and Central Coast schools in their sights.
Users of the website are seeking nude photos from specific high schools and regions and asking for images of individual girls, by posting their full names.
“Will dump all I have if people start looking for Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Hunter Valley girls,” one user wrote.
It is understood six state schools, one Catholic school and one Christian school have been discussed.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said it was “extremely concerned about the effects the alleged offences may have on the welfare of victims” and encouraged them to contact police. Schools will provide support and counselling to any affected students.
Catholic Schools Office Newcastle director of schools Ray Collins pledged the same.
He said the school would speak to students about not “placing anything online which could compromise them at any stage”.
A spokesperson for Christian Schools Australia said it had also not known about the site until Tuesday.
“We are appalled,” the spokesperson said.
“It would seem that most, if not all of the images being traded in this way are of underage individuals, and this makes it a criminal offence.
“Criminal behaviour aside, it is just as, if not more, of a concern to see this predatory and deeply disrespectful behaviour towards women and girls, by men and boys.”
The Herald, Newcastle