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Students at 5 Canberra schools target of porn ring

By Charlotte Harper 17 August 2016 27

School students. Photo: iStock

Girls at five Canberra schools – Canberra College, Gungahlin College, Radford, St Clare’s and St Mary Mackillop’s College – are reportedly among those who have been the target of an online porn sharing site where men and teenaged boys solicit and swap graphic sexual images of young women who live in particular geographic areas or attend specific schools.

According to a News Ltd report, 71 Australian schools are caught up in the porn ring, which has posted or traded more than 2000 images since its inception in December 2015. The site contains more than 50 threads, with each representing a region, such as a rural town or city suburb.

screengrab from Change.org petition

The News Ltd article includes a series of quotes from the porn ring (slightly edited to prevent Google searching):

“Who has nudes of this bitch? I hear she throws it around!”
“I’m posting pretty much all the hottest little teens I have.”
“I have a fair few of ***** ****** including a few box shots of her.”
“I’ll pay good money to see the rig under **** *******, anyone have any of her?”
“Any **** *****? I’ve hear she sucks d**ks”.

According to the article, one young woman tried to have photos of a friend removed from the site, only to find her own name added to the wanted list calling for nude shots.

Another who asked for photographs to be taken down “was told that it was her fault for behaving like a ‘slut’, and that her images now belonged ‘to the internet’,” the News Ltd article reports.

Sharna Bremner from End Rape on Campus told the News Ltd journalist that the men were “getting off on … the very fact that these images are not consensual and that the victims have no idea they are being exploited”.

“The thrill is not just that they might see the girl who sits next to them in maths class, it’s also that they can put in an order for the girl from maths class. What these boys are really getting off on is the sense of power they feel over these girls, and the idea that they can own and obtain them like objects,” she said.

ACT Education Minister Shane Rattenbury said today that the young men involved in this activity needed to know that their behaviour was not only illegal but “completely deplorable”.

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

“Clearly more focus is needed on continuing to educate young men about how to treat women with respect.”

ACT Policing’s Detective Acting Superintendent Marcus Boorman, of Criminal Investigations, said this afternoon that his team was working with national and international counterparts to investigate the matter, which had also been referred to the office of the Children’s Safety Commissioner.

He urged anyone who believed they were a victim or had had their image posted on the website to contact police.

“I would also like to take this oportunity to reinforce to people, and encourage parents and young persons to talk about the risks in relation to posting images on the internet,” Superintendent Boorman said.

“Once you post an image on the internet and you press send, you have no control. That image can end up anywhere.”

Meg Brighton, Deputy Director-General of the ACT Education Directorate, said additional supports were in place for staff and students.

“We are appealing to anyone with information to come forward and to speak to the police about any information they have,” she said.

“Our schools and our community will not tolerate this behaviour that harms, victimises or threatens the safety of young women.”

The principal of Radford College wrote to parents last night when the story broke:

Dear parents, caregivers and staff,

Statement in response to tonight’s news report re: pornography ring involving 70 Australian schools

Radford College has been informed tonight of a News Limited report listing it as one of 70 Australian schools where current or former students are allegedly connected in some way to a pornography ring.

We have also been informed that the matter has been referred to the Cyber Crimes Unit of the AFP. At this stage the College has not been contacted by the AFP, nor any authority that might be involved in an investigation.

The College stands ready to cooperate fully in any investigation by the authorities responsible for investigating these matters.
Radford College takes a zero tolerance approach to behaviour of this nature, which stands in stark contrast to the values and culture not just of the school, but the broader community supporting it.

Any student or parent who has any information about this kind of behaviour is urged to inform the College or contact the Police.

Yours sincerely

Fiona Godfrey
Principal

The acting principal of St Clare’s College also contacted parents last night:

Dear Parents and Carers,

This letter is not to alarm, but to inform.

At 6pm this evening, the Director of Catholic Education, Mrs Moira Najdecki, sent me the following news item and called me to discuss its content. Indeed, we have received some communication from some parents already, drawing our attention to the item. I bring this to your attention so that you are hearing from the College what we know and understand and how this will be best managed, rather than hearing this from elsewhere.

You will be aware that there have been a number of news articles about male students in other parts of the country sharing images of female students in an invasive and degrading manner. I was as distressed as you would have been to read those reports.

The following news item, points to a systematic, planned, and deeply offensive use of other people’s images without their consent. It points to students at our school and four other schools in the ACT, among 70 schools nationwide, where students are targets. At this stage, I am unaware whether it involves images of our students being posted, however, the article does suggest that girls at our school are being targeted. There is no indication of how many students are involved.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/students-from-70-australian-schools-targeted-by-sick-pornography-ring/news-story/53288536e0ce3bba7955e92c7f7fa8da

St Clare’s is proactive in pastorally caring for your daughter and our pastoral program addresses the following things:

St Clare’s engages in an extensive pastoral and education program around technology, cybersafety, positive relationships, self image with all year groups and our Year 9 students participate in the SAPPSS (Sexual Assault Prevention Program For Secondary Students).
All students annually sign a Responsible Use of Technology agreement.
The College works very closely with the AFP to report inappropriate usage and to bring the AFP into our education program. Indeed, we are very happy and grateful for the excellent contribution the AFP makes in this matter.
Student satisfaction surveys (conducted anonymously) point to an overwhelmingly positive response by students to their sense of safety at St Clare’s and their sense of happiness at being here.
Whilst I can appreciate that young people, from time to time, can make errors of judgment about what they share and what they post, social media is an unforgiving, potentially invasive, and very public medium.

Just the same, this report points to something far more concerning than an error of judgment and its degrading, humiliating, and contemptuous disregard for images of other people will not be marginalised or overlooked.

Should any parents or carers have concern that your daughter has been impacted by this situation, please contact the AFP so that they can investigate and contact the College immediately so that we can provide appropriate pastoral support.

I am very sorry to have to bring this to your attention on a Tuesday evening, but I believe it is best in the interests of the progress of your daughter, the wellbeing of your family and our college that you be made aware of as much as possible as soon as possible.

The College will, of course, communicate with all of you any further information as we receive it. Please understand also that whilst the privacy and dignity of some young and vulnerable people across the country has been disregarded, it will be respected by our College.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Natalie Dickie
Acting Principal

One group of concerned citizens has set up a Change.org petition calling on the Federal government step in.

“If Mr Turnbull and Ms Cash are serious about encouraging respectful male behaviour towards Australian women and girls, they need to take a stand by punishing the men who operate this group and the males who contribute to it,” it reads.

NSW Police have issued a statement saying the website is hosted overseas, and uses software that allows users to post text and images anonymously.

According to the statement, Detectives from the Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit are liaising with law enforcement colleagues in other jurisdictions and making inquiries to determine if any offences have been committed in NSW.

Police are also working closely with the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner and liaising with the NSW Department of Education, the Association of Independent Schools of NSW and Catholic Schools NSW.

Police are reminding the community it is a criminal offence to take, transmit or possess images that are considered child abuse material (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, will have a criminal record.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

File photograph of school students at top (not from Canberra): iStock; Screengrab from porn ring itself: Change.org

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27 Responses to
Students at 5 Canberra schools target of porn ring
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chewy14 3:30 pm 25 Aug 16

Roksteddy said :

Talk about false logic. Your past few posts have been full of it.
As for insinuating I am somehow involved in that site, I find that utterly offensive and insulting and can only assume you feel you have lost the argument when you have to resort to that. FYI the photoshopping was reported by police. So much for your assertion of only 2 possibilities.
I am not a man-hater. I do not blame them for everything. I just believe that when this very small group engage in this behaviour, it is up to the rest of us males to call them out.
If $50 is stolen from your pocket, you don’t blame the thief? Very magnanimous of you. I would love to know the precautionary measures that can be taken against males filming up girls skirts at school. Must be their fault for what they are wearing.
“People who base their decisions on feelpinions rather than critical thought are the worst examples of all for children.” Hyperbole much? Pretty sure I can think of worse role models.

Once again, risk management.

The liklihood of having some deviant with a camera taking photos of you is very low and there is not much you can do to stop it, so the ability to control consequences is limited. Hence, no one would attributing much responsibility to those victims.

But taking photos of yourself and deliberately sharing them with others, who then share them on the internet (which is the vast majority of victims we’re talking about here), has a much higher liklihood of occurring and much more obvious control measures. Hence more responsibility is applied to those victims.

It’s really not that difficult.

devils_advocate 12:21 pm 25 Aug 16

Roksteddy said :

“People who base their decisions on feelpinions rather than critical thought are the worst examples of all for children.” Hyperbole much? Pretty sure I can think of worse role models.

No hyperbole at all. Children are increasingly exposed to various mental shortcuts masquerading as thought. Adults simultaneously seek to relieve children of the consequences of their actions while not providing them with balanced information on what those consequences might be. Oversimplification of complex issues, a victim culture and an unwillingness to confront uncomfortable discussions for fear of offending the entrenched liberal/feminist orthodoxy all lead to individuals who are poorly equipped to navigate real life. Note I am not saying these orthodoxies are wrong. I am merely saying they should not be immune from critique.

You will note I said the worst *role models*. There are probably worse people, but I would not count them as role models. Systematically robbing children of the ability to think leads to a lot of social problems.

Roksteddy 10:47 am 25 Aug 16

Talk about false logic. Your past few posts have been full of it.
As for insinuating I am somehow involved in that site, I find that utterly offensive and insulting and can only assume you feel you have lost the argument when you have to resort to that. FYI the photoshopping was reported by police. So much for your assertion of only 2 possibilities.
I am not a man-hater. I do not blame them for everything. I just believe that when this very small group engage in this behaviour, it is up to the rest of us males to call them out.
If $50 is stolen from your pocket, you don’t blame the thief? Very magnanimous of you. I would love to know the precautionary measures that can be taken against males filming up girls skirts at school. Must be their fault for what they are wearing.
“People who base their decisions on feelpinions rather than critical thought are the worst examples of all for children.” Hyperbole much? Pretty sure I can think of worse role models.

devils_advocate 9:33 am 25 Aug 16

rommeldog56 said :

In this case, at best the girls exercised poor judgement – as they are schoolgirls, not so surprising.

I don’t think it’s just schoolgirls that have poor judgement. Children in general have poor judgement. They have very high discount rates – they will trade off immediate benefits despite very high costs down the track. In addition, they often have low information. They simply don’t have enough life experience to understand the real costs and benefits of many actions. And they have less experience in reasoning through complex problems. We see this among both (all?) genders not just in “sexting” but in drunk/drug driving, late night drunken assaults, etc.

I would have thought that as adults, one thing we could potentially do is at least solve some of the information problems. That is, set out in a sensible way the potential risks associated with particular behaviours and let the individual make a more informed choice. Is that victim blaming? Particularly if that person has not yet become a ‘victim’ of any illegal action? Or are we perpetuating a culture where every *potential* victim of a crime is now defined as a victim beforehand?

As adults, we could be setting a good example of how to make informed decisions based on the fullest possible set of information. Instead, many choose to substitute that kind of decision-making process with catchphrases regurgitated from feminist blogs.

Feelpinions, catch-phrases and ad-hominem attacks often *feel* like thinking, in that they lead to a conclusion, but they are not actual thinking.

devils_advocate 8:52 am 25 Aug 16

sportsmum said :

After all, all of the risk of doing the wrong thing comes from the person who actually does the wrong thing. Keep the conversation where it belongs and don’t tolerate this abhorrent behaviour.

You are perpetuating a false dichotomy. It’s one of the more egregious flaws of logic, but unfortunately a very common one. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Legal penalties exist to deter individuals from doing the wrong thing. This does not prevent individuals from taking their own precautions from becoming the victim of crime. It is possible to entertain both these thoughts at the same time. They are not contradictory. Pretending that they are reflects fuzzy thinking, poor reasoning skills and does not set a good example for anyone.

gooterz 8:50 pm 24 Aug 16

The group that hates men and boys and blames them for every evil in the world also claims victim blaming when discussing issues. For them they see it as black and white, women are always in the right.

Blaming all men and boys rather than just those responsible is bigotry against men. It’s likely only a handful of men or women are responsible.

Some people seem to have a great idea about what is on the site “photoshopped heads on bodies” etc. Are these people subscribers to the site or just making it up? I’m assuming the 2nd.

What seems to be missing is the understanding that some of the women involved could possibly be giving these pictures out to many guys not just boyfriends etc.

Personally if I go handing out $50 notes to strangers and asking them not to spend it am i victim if they spend it?

chewy14 7:36 pm 24 Aug 16

sportsmum said :

devils_advocate said :

Roksteddy said :

Frankly, if you haven’t already denounced this behaviour then you are part of the problem that allows it to perpetuate. If you have sons and daughters then I certainly hope they have better role models than you elsewhere in their lives.

Every day, reasonable people take precautions against being the victims of crime. It is not the same as victim blaming. Equating precautionary measures to victim blaming displays a serious lack of logical thinking. People who base their decisions on feelpinions rather than critical thought are the worst examples of all for children.

Every day some people try to turn the focus of the discussion away from the actions of the person committing the wrong, and back to the actions of the victim. They say that this isn’t victim blaming. They say it is simply “being realistic”. What it is in actual fact is a subtle re-enforcement of the idea that a victim is responsible for the crime that was committed against them because of something they did (or didn’t do, or maybe because it rained that day, or perhaps because it was a Tuesday and no one likes Tuesdays). Ergo, victim blaming. It is also an extremely effective method of distraction which ensures that responsibility is never placed at the feet of the people who did the wrong thing. We can’t focus on them, we’re too busy looking the other way, at the person who has been victimised, taken advantage of, hurt, shamed and humiliated. In doing this, we amplify the humiliation to the victim. We prevent the person in the wrong from even knowing or fully understanding that what they did was fundamentally wrong and unacceptable. Indeed, it is actually a tacit form of acceptance of the wrongful behaviour.

Where is the comment on the actions of the people who committed the crime? What precautions would you suggest they take in order to prevent themselves from committing the same crime again in the future? How do you suppose that the perpetrators of the crime should be dealt with in order to protect others from their criminal actions? These are the questions to be focused on.

After all, all of the risk of doing the wrong thing comes from the person who actually does the wrong thing. Keep the conversation where it belongs and don’t tolerate this abhorrent behaviour.

And some people have no idea about risk management and think that with the right amount of teaching we can end all crime and live in a wonderful utopia. The facts are that this isn’t the reality we live in.

The people sharing these photos against the law should be punished to the full extent of that law.

But that doesn’t excuse people from understanding the risks and potential consequences of taking these types of photos of themselves and freely giving them to people. And it’s not “victim blaming” to point this out.

Do you complain about the “victim blaming” from groups like neighbourhood watch or the police telling you to lock your house up when you’re away? Do you whinge about signs in carparks telling people to secure their valuables?

There is a small amount of the population who do not care about rules, they do not care about laws and you will never change their minds or teach them that what they’re doing is wrong. Pretending they don’t exist is not only dangerous but stupid.

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