Child Instagram Models: 'Deleting Penis Photos' Is A 'Full Time Job'
A 10 daily investigation has revealed that Aussie child model images from Instagram are ending up on porn sites and paedophile-fantasy chat rooms.
Nicole is a 'mumager' and her daughter has been modelling since she was six-years-old. She also manages her daughter's social media pages.
“Monitoring the direct messages is like a full time job, deleting penis photos, marriage proposals, all sorts of disgusting comments,” she told 10 daily.
Her daughter has only just become a teenager but already has more than 150,000 followers on her public Instagram page.
Nicole wants to speak out about what she says is an industry where some parents, agents and photographers are increasingly exploiting rather than protecting children.
“I’ve seen mums at photo-shoots and they are the ones who are unbuttoning their 10-year old-daughter's tops and telling them what to do,” Nicole said.
She says mums are "desperate to get their daughter's noticed," in an industry that looks to Instagram rather than shopping centre or girl magazine competitions to find the next Miranda Kerr.
Nicole said within the child modelling industry she now has a reputation for being a campaigner against inappropriate images of children -- although she admits she learnt the hard way.
She says one photographer "convinced her" to take a picture of her daughter with her pigtales covering her naked chest.
It's a decision she now regrets.
“I felt sick about it, I ended up telling him that I thought it was inappropriate and the photo has never been shared or published thankfully,” she said.
A quick scour of Instagram using the hashtags #tweenmodel and #toddlerbikini delivers almost 200,000 images.
10 daily forwarded several photographs of Australian Instagram models aged between nine and 15 to Collective Shout. It's a grassroots campaigns movement against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls.
“I searched for a couple of images and found them on porn sites. It’s likely the majority of them are on porn sites and others are in a chat room with inappropriate sexual comments about a primary school aged girl,” campaigns manager Caitlin Roper said.
10 daily has viewed and can confirm that these images were shared on a porn site and other chat rooms.
But who should be held accountable for where these pictures are ending up?
Michael Murchie was the man behind the camera for at least one of the child photos Roper found a porn site. He told 10 daily all clothing in his shoots belong to the models.
"I do not style the models or the photos. I simply photograph what is there. My concerns are with light, contrast and composition. I approach all images as art," he said.
Murchie has almost 13,000 followers on Instagram, and has recently made his page private after noticing his photos were being shared elsewhere. There is no suggestion that he is doing anything inappropriate with the photos.
“As much as this disturbs me I cannot be held responsible for what sick, twisted grubs copy, edit and paste from a model's social media site or what these animals discuss on their forums,” he said.
When questioned about the age-appropriateness of the photos of teen and pre-teen girls such as the images above, Murchie said: “I never take revealing photos of minors. I merely take the photos requested of me by the clients, their parents."
But Roper doesn't buy it.
“Is that an excuse? If a parent wants to exploit their kids then its OK from a photographer to make money from it?”
Instagram states account holders need to be at least 13 years of age.
They routinely close down pages that have been reported to them, however if its an adult run page there's a chance it can stay up.
Samantha, who declined to give us her surname, manages her 10-year-old daughter's modelling page on Instagram and manages to keep it from being shut down.
"She comes up with her own styling and she’s the one that does the poses. It’s the norm of what people do and wear these days,” she said.
Instagram have pulled the page down a number of times but the family got it back up by demonstrating that the page is 100 percent managed by parents.
Samantha says she deletes sexual and inappropriate comments “all the time, it’s constant”.
The family is regularly approached by photographers wanting to work with them.
“She got her first modelling gig on Instagram after a New Zealand photographer saw her page.”
But she insists she is very choosy about who they work with -- and she does a lot of research among the modelling community.
Girls and women's advocate Roper said modelling decision being made by parents could be damaging to their children in years to come.
“Do they not understand the implications for their child or do they not care? Is it about fame ahead of their child’s rights and safety?”
Dad, Rory, is often uncomfortable about what is being posted by his partner Samantha -- both clothing and poses -- but says he is reassured that this is the fashion and nature of modern modelling.
"Some of the comments that are posted to be frank are disgusting,” he said.
The former IT worker also says he monitor profiles of men he is concerned about.
Australia's eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said younger children are yet to develop the maturity, reasoning or resilience to deal with serious online risks including unwanted contact from strangers.
"Intimate images of children under the age of 18 that end up on porn sites or chat rooms may be classified as the distribution of child sexual abuse material," she told 10 daily.
"The eSafety Office prioritises investigations into child sexual abuse material, which can be found on our website."
Instagram did not respond to repeated interview requests.
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Featured image: Instagram