Sextortion may not be a term you’re familiar with, but it’s one that all parents should know. Simply put, sextortion is blackmail. It’s when someone threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay them or provide more sexual content. And, unfortunately, it’s on the rise.
Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet, has received 250 reports over the last three years of teens being sextorted, and reported an 89 per cent increase in the past two years1 in online sextortion cases among teenage boys.
Through these reports, Cybertip.ca analysts are also able to see emerging trends in techniques used to sextort teens, and in turn can suggest ways to prevent sextortion and what to do if an incident does happen to your teen.
How Are Victims Targeted?
Social media seems to be the platform of choice for extortionists. They may find victims who have open profiles because they are easier to contact and it gives the extortionist access to the victim’s friend list which they can turn to when they are threatening to distribute the victim’s photo/video.
These offenders often target numerous people at the same time which increases their chances of finding a teen that will comply.
At Cybertip.ca, analysts see platforms such as Facebook®, Skype®, and Google+ Hangouts® being used for sextortion incidents. If your teen is being sextorted through Facebook you can report it directly here. If it’s through Skype, report the account by blocking the contact from the contact list and check off “Report Abuse” before clicking “Block.” For Google Hangouts there are options to report on all platforms through here.
What Extortionists Say and Do
Of course all conversations will vary, but analysts have noticed a few patterns in what extortionists will say or do when chatting with victims:
- Wanting teens to go on video chat or send pictures early on in the conversation.
- Constantly turning the conversation to talk about sex.
- Saying they are naked and want teens to go on video chat.
- Disapproving of the teen if they don’t show their face on video chat or in an image.
- Not taking “no” for an answer when teens say they don’t want to chat or send images.
What to do if Your Teen (or you) are Being Targeted
- Immediately cease all contact with the individual and do NOT comply with any threats or demands.
- If money has been sent to the extortionist contact the money service that has been used immediately. Most money services will have a blackmail form you can fill out.
- Keep all copies of communication with the extortionist if possible.
- Report the matter to your local police, as well as the website/platform where the sextortion is occurring so they can gather relevant information that may be beneficial to law enforcement.
- Most importantly, know you and your teen are not alone. Visit dontgetsextorted.ca and needhelpnow.ca for resources on how to manage instances of sextortion and sexting, as well as where to turn for support.
If your teen is being sextorted you can also make a report to Cybertip.ca.