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CT police warn parents about social media posts of back-to-school pics | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

East Hartford police are warning proud parents who post back-to-school photos of their children that sharing too much information online invites predators.

In this age of social media, many parents make a habit of snapping pictures of their children holding chalkboards or signs with their full names, grade they’re entering, teacher and school name, and other personal information predators can use to track kids and parents, police warned in a recent Facebook post. While their post may be private, it still might not stop an uninformed and well-intentioned relative or friend from sharing the image to a wider audience 

“Truthfully, we have not seen predators specifically for this,” Officer Marc Caruso said Thursday.  “However, it does happen across the country, and we just thought it would be a nice reminder for folks as kids go back to school.”

Predators, Caruso said, can learn a lot from the postings, including tracking down specific school bus routes.

“We just wanted parents to be cognizant of the information they are putting out on social media about their kids,” he said.

East Hartford joins other police departments in Connecticut and around the nation in cautioning parents about first-day-of-school posts.

Berlin police also issued a warning on their Facebook page last year, advising parents to check images closely before posting, “especially in the background and make sure that they do not transmit information you would not want the predator or scammer to have.”

Enough is Enough, a nonprofit group that advocates online safety, cautions parents and grandparents not to expose their families to child abusers and savvy cyber-crooks.

While it may be well-meaning, sharing a child’s personal school information or favorite activities can lead a predator or trafficker right to them, the organization warned on its website, adding: “It can also expose them to cybersecurity risks, including identity theft, scammers or privacy invasions.”

It’s best to celebrate a child’s important milestones by keeping information as generic as possible, the organization warned, and be mindful of other images in ‘first day’ photos, such as a home address, school name or mascot, that could identify their location. “Sharing less is more in keeping your child safer online!”

As in East Hartford, police around the nation have used side-by-side photos of officers holding contrasting back-to-school signs. In the left-side photo on the department’s Facebook post, Sgt. Jose Cortes Jr. holds a sign that includes his full name, age, name of his school and teacher and the fact that he has two sisters. The photo on the right offers a model of a post that still expresses pride and love, but with minimal identifying information.

“Keep it simple. Make it memorable,” the department’s post says.

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