Police say parents may want to take down ‘back to school’ posts, warn criminals could use information to stalk children

MADISON, Wis.– You’ve probably seen them by now: countless ‘Back to School’ posts from parents, excited their kids are finally returning to in-person learning. Many are sharing pictures of their sons and daughters holding chalkboards or signs with their age, school, teacher’s name, and more on full display.

Madison officers warn– it’s not the images that are the problem, it’s the information.

“We always tell kids, ‘Don’t give out any information on social media because you don’t know who your audience is.’ It’s time for parents to practice what they preach,” said Det. Sgt. Julie Johnson, Madison Police Department.

Johnson is in her 24th year with MPD and leads the department that takes on all cases involving kids in Madison.

“We see a lot of things,” she said. “Including a growing number of cybercrimes. We’re not saying, ‘Never put pictures of your kids on Facebook.’ There are just some things you should consider.”

According to Johnson, parents should avoid posting the following information about their children:

  • Their school
  • Their grade level
  • Their teacher’s name
  • Their age
  • Their height & weight

Not only can criminals use this information to potentially stalk children, but Johnson explained they can use it to steal their identities: something they might not find out happened until they apply for credit years later.

“We know parents don’t mean to do anything wrong,” said Johnson. “I mean, who doesn’t want to share a cute picture of a second grader on their first day of school?”

Officers like Johnson are merely cautioning parents, ‘better safe than sorry,’ and in the future, consider ditching the signs and share kids’ smiles instead on social media.