She was 12 years old.
She was allegedly using a popular text messaging service called Kik.
What happened next is every parents’ worst nightmare: the US girl was allegedly contacted by several adult men and sent pictures of male genitalia — and then coerced into sending sexual images of herself.
According to the Brisbane Times, police allege one 22-year-old man from Brisbane then threatened to publish the images if the pre-teen girl didn’t send him more.
The shocking communications were only uncovered when the girl’s mother found the images on her phone last month and alerted authorities, the Brisbane Times reports.
US police contacted Queensland police — and on Thursday, the Brisbane man was arrested and charged with using the internet to procure a child under 16.
He is due to face court on August 12.
But as Officers from specialised QLD police team Task Force Argos suggested to reporters, the case has frightening, broader implications and highlights the dangers of children’s access to social media.
“It would border on the line of what is now a common term – `sextortion’,” Queensland Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said on Friday.
“Children aren’t really capable of coping with that type of threat,” The Brisbane Times cites him as saying.
Det-Insp Rouse urged parents to monitor their children’s social media activities on platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, the Courier Mail reports.
“Look at the devices your children have, satisfy yourself that the applications installed are safe and have a look at the photographs and any chat logs that are on the devices,” Det-Insp Rouse said.