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Police Address Students About Online ContentPosted in College Community,Secondary on Wednesday, 10 April, 2019

Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 students were addressed by Sergeant Paul Trimble from the Western Australian Police Force on appropriate use of the Internet and online behaviour. Sergeant Trimble is a member of the Mandurah Community Engagement Unit, operating in the areas of Mandurah, Rockingham and Kwinana, and was invited by the College to come and address the students about the legal implications of misuse of the internet and more importantly teach students how to be safe online.

Sergeant Trimble made it very clear, whatever students write or upload online is there forever and can be accessed by anyone. Students are at risk of being charged by the state or federal police if they are to put anything damning online. He also warned students that comments made online can be found by potential employers in the future. That even by liking certain content online they can be seen as aligning themselves with unsavoury groups and this can impact their current and future reputation considerably.

Sergeant Trimble spoke about the new law which has come into effect recently. “If at any point someone under 18 takes a naked photo of themselves, they have created child pornography. If they send it to someone else, they can be charged with distributing child pornography. You can delete it and you can take it to a teacher or adult and report it without getting in trouble. However, if you keep it on your phone, you can be charged.

The law doesn’t differentiate between a child who makes a mistake and a sex offender. This is the reality of what you can be charged with.”

Sergeant Trimble’s message to students was firm but fair. “Everyone makes mistakes,” he said. “It’s about learning from those mistakes.” He encouraged students to decide that from this point onwards, they wouldn’t post or like any content that might reflect on them poorly – something he calls ‘the grandmother test’. “If you wouldn’t type or like that content with your grandmother looking over your shoulder – that’s a good indication that it’s not appropriate.”

Sergeant Trimble spoke to students about his experience in his considerable work history.  “When someone posts something inappropriate online, we can track that post and see exactly where it has come from. Even if you’re using someone else’s WIFI, we can track the device that the post has come from. There are lots of different ways we can track back and find out where a post has come from. We use a range of tools and techniques to track and catch the people out there doing the wrong thing…and YES – you can still get charged if you’re a student.”

Sergeant Trimble opened up a question and answer session at the end of his talk, which allowed for some relevant questions to be asked. One Year 8 student asked for Sergeant Trimble’s suggestions about how to go about tackling the problem of being targeted or bullied online. Sergeant Trimble answered, “Tell the person who is doing it to you, to stop doing it. If they don’t stop, tell someone you trust. You should have three or four adults in your mind that you can go to 24/7 if you have a problem. You keep going to people and telling them until it has stopped. It’s really important that you keep telling someone until it stops.”

Deputy Principal of Teaching and Learning, Mr Paschal McCarthy addressed the students at the end of the Years 7 and 8 talk asking them to remember not to post anything negative about the College online. “I’d like you not to say anything negative about a staff member. I’d like you not to say anything negative about MCC or a fellow student at MCC. I want to be very clear on the expectations we have for you,” he said.