Australian ‘Porn Ring’ Targets Over 2,000 Female Students

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

Over 2,000 images of female students from 71 schools across Australia have been traded within a pornography ring since last December.

The ring is run by teenage boys and young men, who nominate various high schools and specific girls that they have been “hunting.”  Many of the girls are underage.

The graphic and sexual images are published alongside each student’s full name and other identifying details.  Meanwhile, other students are included on a “wanted” list.  Members of the ring work toward phishing naked photos of the “wanted” girls, which are then published and shared once obtained.  There are currently hundreds of girls included on this list, as well as the names of sisters and friendship circles, and close to 70 schools throughout the country.

After a girl’s name is added to the list, other members of the group can add information about the intended victim, including her full name, face, school, home address, and phone number.

Some girls have been requested so many times that a bounty has been offered for their photos.

Police say that because the “swap-meet” site is hosted overseas, there is nothing they can do to put a stop to the efforts, despite multiple complaints of child pornography, reports Simon Miraudo for Student Edge.

Although police are unable to act on the site, the NSW Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, said that the people responsible for taking and distributing the photographs will be held accountable.

“[It] is a criminal offence to take, transmit or possess images that are considered child pornography,” she said.

“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.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stated that the Police and Education minister had met earlier in the week in order to discuss how to respond to the discovery of the site.  She added that she was informed the police were “quick to act” as soon as they heard about the site.

Palaszczuk went on to say that although schools do play a role in education and police in enforcing the law, they need help to do their jobs well.

“We also need parents and caregivers to monitor what their children are doing in cyberspace and ensure they are educated about society’s expectations, the law and possible risks,” she said.

She added that it is up to everyone to be responsible and protect their online identities through an understanding of the risks associated with posting photographs to social media.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Kate Jones said that schools will be offering guidance and support to students and families who make such a request.

In all, 29 NSW high schools are named on the site, as well as 18 Queensland high schools, 15 Victorian high schools, five ACT high schools, two South Australian high schools, and two Tasmanian high schools.

A similar controversy was unearthed in July when two male students at Brighton Grammar were expelled for their roles in hosting an Instagram account that held pornographic images of female students from the same school.