In the first edition of the Online Safety Toolkit Newsletter we learned about sextortion on the rise. Unfortunately, that was a very real concern, and in recent months FBI offices across the country have been issuing warnings that teen boys are increasingly being targeted.
Sextortion is a crime of online exploitation in which children or adults are coerced or blackmailed by a criminal seeking to acquire explicit content, pursue sex, or obtain money. While the issue is not new, we are currently seeing the standardization of the financial scam aspect of sextortion. Increasingly these scams are directed at children, and particularly young boys.
In this version of the crime, perpetrators capitalize on the developing brain, manipulating boys into risky decisions and then blackmailing them by threatening to leak the photos if they do not send payment. Sadly, in March, a 17 yr old boy commit suicide just hours after receiving sextortion demands, and he is far from the only one.
It’s vital to talk to kids about the risks of online behavior, about concerning trends, and about how they can always come to you, even if they feel they’ve made a bad decision. The harms of sextortion are amplified by the secrecy victims feel they must keep. Below is a good infographic from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, giving an overview of the issue and how you might approach discussing it with kids.