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Dad issues warning after 'groomer' contacts child over school iPad

Dad issues warning after 'groomer' contacts child over school iPad

Monday 11 February 2019

Dad issues warning after 'groomer' contacts child over school iPad

An angry dad has issued a warning to parents across the Channel Islands after his 11-year-old daughter was asked to send nude images of herself via an app she was required to use on a school iPad.

The message was sent to the St. Sampson's High student in Guernsey last week, and has since sparked a police investigation.

Like many in Jersey, the school issues iPads to students to enable them to do school work and homework online. Parents are asked to sign consent forms if they agree to their child having one, with some believed to have refused to give permission for their child to have the equipment.

The girl's* parents had signed the consent form but her dad questioned why apps with messaging functions had been installed without the parents being told, so they could keep an eye on what their child was doing.

children iPad tablet technology online

Pictured: Many schools across the Channel Islands use iPads for schoolwork.

Despite the school's IT technician removing the App Store so new ones couldn't be installed, an art teacher allegedly asked for the 'PicsArt' app to be installed.

According to its description on the App Store, the app enables users to "take and edit pictures, draw with layers, and share their images with the PicsArt community and on other networks like Facebook and Instagram".

Designed for children aged 12 and over, the app was installed on the pupil's iPad despite her being just 11. Her dad says they weren't told she would be using apps with social media functions or for older age groups. 

It was through the app's messaging function that the girl was contacted by someone asking for nude images last Monday night while she used the app at home.

PicsArt App

Pictured: The PicsArt app was downloaded to students iPads so they could use it for art work. 

Her father contacted the school immediately the following morning. He said he was told a warning would be sent to other parents advising them to check their own child's iPad.

But by the time school started on Friday morning, that message had still not been sent, leading him to worry that his daughter's experience could also happen to other children.

Finally, the school's Head Teacher send a message just before 11:00, stating: "A parent has expressed concern about the iPad app PicsArt. We've removed the app pending investigation. If your child isn't in school today pls [sic] check their iPad & remove the app. Thank you for your help."

In a further statement, Annabel Bolt told Express: “The application in question has been removed from school devices. We are working to establish the exact circumstances around how this situation occurred, and until we can be certain it will not happen again, the app will not be re-installed. The safety and well-being of our students is a priority and the school is carrying out a full and thorough investigation.”


Pictured: St. Sampson’s Headteacher said the app has been removed from school devices.

But this hasn't been enough to put the father's mind at ease, and he remains concerned. "I want other parents to know the risks these iPads have, even with precautions put in place - they aren't tough enough precautions," he said.

"The security of it just isn't that good and other parents need to be warned. You think if the school is putting these apps on the iPad why aren't they checking them? Are they meant to check them or are precautions not put in place?"

He has tried to discuss the issue with the school but said he has not got very far yet. He has also taken legal advice and spoken to Guernsey Police. A Guernsey Police spokesman confirmed they were aware of the situation and that an investigation was ongoing.

The alert comes just days after Jersey's Medical Officer for Health joined national calls to cut down children's screen time following the release of a report by the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, while campaigns to safeguard young people by making large-scale tech and social media companies more accountable grow.

It also comes just two years after a Jersey school issued a warning to parents about gaming app Roblox following reports that children as young as six were sent “explicit” messages by strangers.

Yesterday saw the Sunday Times expose how children are able to sign up to adult dating apps without their age being verified.

*Anonymised to protect the identity of the student.

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