NSW Child's Photos on Facebook and Problems with Daughter's Boyfriend

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19 November 2014

I am the father of a 12-year-old boy whom I am most concerned about. My 18-year-old daughter has a 19-year-old boyfriend who is known to the police for his graffiti, though he says he has stopped doing it, despite the fact that recently his Facebook profile photo was of graffiti. The BF, who is nearly 20, is very arrogant and self-assured, has become a big influence on my son and some other boys too. My son and 3 other boys (ages 12, 13 and 14) were let off with a warning after graffitiing the local station toilets and fence.

The BF has:
- hung around with the younger boys and shown them his graffiti sites (we live in a beautiful leafy area...it disgusts me to see people ruin this)

- taken my son, who I thought was safely with my daughter, to at least 2 abandoned houses with graffiti inside everywhere...pretty disgusting looking places and taken photos of him alone there and posted these photos on his "Imgur"/ (similar to Instagram) site

- got into my son's Facebook (I was unaware he had this) and posted private messages (of little consequence here apart from that I feel this isn't right) to three 12-year-old girls, but also a more concerning message to my son's best friend, again pretending to be my son, asking him, "What would you think of me if I told you I think I am gay?".

The reply to this was very kind and supportive. Then my son added to all four message streams, "That was my sister's BF, not me." The BF scoffs and says this was a joke.

- been noticed to be spending too much time in the public toilets with my son when we have visited a restaurant, making another parent comment with concerns at what might be happening in there (I thought at first it was nothing, just my son following him in there, but then I was worried about graffiti)

- been noticed by my daughter's friends to be spending a lot of time with my son in preference to her
- occasionally has been found sitting on my son's bed at at one time lying with him when I have randomly come in to say goodnight

- has not apologised for any of this after 7 weeks

My daughter is totally wild with me for putting my foot down and not allowing the BF in the house, since the police incident, when I also found out about the Facebook messages. Since then I accidentally found out about the pictures of my son in the abandoned house in the BF's social media. It reeks of him bragging that he has some power over my little boy.

This is all a big shock to me as I can't understand my daughter being OK with all this. She eavesdropped a phone counselling session where the counsellor brought up that the BF's behaviour seems "grooming" in nature.

At first I thought she meant grooming him into the subculture of graffiti, but then I realised she was meaning more. She asked for my gut feeling about it and I said I didn't think anything sexual was going on, but I was starting to wonder where it was leading, as my friend had shown her concern over the extended time in the toilets.

I spoke with the school principal who said she had known the BF's family for years and was worried when my daughter started gong out with him. Apparently he had had a history of bad behaviour and the family dynamic wasn't good, with a very domineering father.

My question s are:

- Is any of what the BF did in regard to my son, i.e. Facebook message, posting his image on Imgur, illegal?

- Now that my son is known to the police for a warning for graffitiing, does putting an image of my son surrounded by graffiti up on social media constitute defamation or libel in any way?

I want to warn the BF that I have investigated this and know the law.


Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Jaipriya,

This is a terrible situation for a father to be in. Unfortunately, none of this appears to be illegal as the BF has not done anything illegal against your son or yourself. This appears to be more of a parenting issue. It is frustrating for a parent to want to keep your child away from bad influences and not knowing how to go about this. However, this would not be enough for the law to intervene. Posting Facebook photographs involving your son will not constitute defamation (from the facts you have presented). Defamation is quite difficult to prove and has some very specific elements and legal definitions.