Sextortion – Child protection group warns against ‘sextortion’ scheme
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection warns parents and teens of a new “sextortion” tactic by cyber bullies – secretly recording sexual acts by teens and then demanding money to allegedly keep it off the internet. The centre urges parents to discuss the risks of exposing themselves or engaging in sexual acts online. (CBC archives)
Online racketeers are resorting to new tactics to hold unwitting teens to ransom through “sextortion” by secretly recording them exposing themselves and then threatening to put the images on the internet unless they pay, a child protection agency said on Wednesday.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection urged parents to be forthright with their children by urging them to come forward with their concerns and never complying with threats.
“We are imploring parents of teenage children to be proactive and discuss the growing issue of young people and their peers being extorted for sexual pictures/videos and money,” Signy Arnason, Director of the centre’s Cybertip.ca program, said in a statement. “The best ways to counter the ever-evolving tactics used by offenders is to proactively educate teens about emerging issues and stress the importance of never complying with threats.”
The group said sextortionists have developed their schemes by using other teenagers within the same peer group.
Within social media platforms, like Facebook or Skype, friends are being shown the sexual image or video of their peer and told that if they don’t share a sexual image of themselves, the offender will distribute the recorded sexual image/video of their friend.
If the youth complies and shares a sexual image or video, he or she is subjected to extortion, with demands ranging from $200 – $1,000, to allegedly prevent the content from being shared publicly.
“We see many instances where the teenager feels responsible for having sexually exposed themselves online and being manipulated and tricked by the offender,” Sergeant Caroline Girard of Sûreté du Québec said in the statement.
“This can result in less kids coming forward which we don’t want to see happen. Rarely do these individuals have only one victim, so parents need to be vigilant in talking with their teens and always encourage youth to come forward and report what has happened.”
The centre called for a discussion between parents and teens, with the emphasis on never complying with threats as that can only worsen the situation. Parents should also discuss the risks associated with engaging in sexual activity over live-streaming video and stress the importance of coming forward if teens face concerning online situations
Sextortion refers to the broad category of sexual exploitation in which abuse of power is the means of coercion, as well as to the category of sexual exploitation in which threatened release of sexual images or information is the means of coercion.