Johannesburg - It's back to school and as parents celebrate their children starting Grade 1 on Wednesday, the Film and Publication Board has warned them to be alert of child predators.
Social media has been flooded with heartwarming pictures of little ones wearing their school uniform with parents and family members doting on them.
In some of the posts, particularly on Twitter, the pictures bear the school uniform emblem making the school identifiable while some posts contain the children's names and Grades as well as a clear description of where the pics were taken.
The FPB said the detailed information was the perfect platform for online predators to target young children.
"First day at school is always exciting and parents always feel the need to upload pics of their kids in uniform. Your child’s uniform has their school name on it and can lead online predators to your child. Be careful. #backtoschool," the organisation tweeted.
First day at school is always exciting and parents always feel the need to upload pics of their kids in uniform. Your child’s uniform has their school name on it and can lead online predators to your child. Be careful. #backtoschool pic.twitter.com/XekjMGzWvk
While several other social media users have also recommended that parents stay clear of parading their children's pictures and information online others, however, have dismissed this a pure paranoia saying parents should be left alone to celebrate the start of the childrens' school journey.
"So they will travel distances just for your child cos there are no schools oe kids in their own areas right? Your kid must be special. Predators are real but stop this fear mongering and let parents celebrate special days with their kids," said Twitter user, @BlackTZA.
So they will travel distances just for your child cos there are no schools oe kids in their own areas right? Your kid must be special. Predators are real but stop this fear mongering and let parents celebrate special days with their kids.
But social media law expert, Diana Schwarz, a lawyer at Phukubje Pierce Masithela Attorneys agreed with the film and publication board saying it was vital parents and adults adhere to the post and remain extra vigilant.
"When you post a child with the school uniform it automatically locates the child and the school. A predator online may easily Google the name of the school, the operating times, making it easier for them to identify the child posted or their parents during a school drop-off or collection," she said.
She also added some parents rarely have privacy settings on their social media accounts, therefore and that while some may have, criminals were sophisticated now more than ever in their modus operandi.
"The fact is that there is a real danger that lurks out there and their world we live in today is not safe. We have to put these measures in place to protect children from those who target them online."
FPB spokesperson Manala Botolo meanwhile said: "We are not saying parents should not post pictures but merely giving them tips because most of them don't understand that online activity can be traced by predators. It might be someone you know or your enemy. They'll be able to assess anything including the routes your children travel."
She added: "We've noticed when it comes to paedophiles they target kids and many of them use the online platform to carry plan their heinous deeds."
She advised parents to perhaps hide the school badge and any other information that might give the location away.