With the augmentation of Internet and smartphone usage, the picture of online fraud has changed drastically. Nowadays, for sexual predators and cyberbullies it easier than ever to target kids through scary Internet phenomenon, known as “Sextortion.”
For parents, now it is not solely a need to protect their underage kids from Internet pornography. Also, there is an issue to prevent kids from sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves, as it may lead to sexual exploitation.
What is Sextortion?
Sextortion is a new but powerful form of sexual exploitation. Unlike innocent flirting online or sexting, sextortion is a criminal act, which is committed by sexual offenders repeatedly. Usually, sextortion includes a perpetrator obtaining someone`s pictures and threatening to share them to the wide audience unless the victim gives them something they want. Quite often they want more images of the victim or money.
It has two main forms which include:
1) Online harassment with a purpose to get sexually explicit photos or videos from the victims;
2) Threats to spread sexually explicit photos over the Internet if the victim doesn’t send more nude photos or money.
The statistics on sextortion is the following:
- 71 % of victims are under 18 years old;
- 78 % of victims are girls;
- 15% of boys are involved in sextortion in comparison to girls;
How does sextortion happen?
Sextortion can take place in many ways by online perpetrators, who seek vulnerable individuals for the exploitation. They begin by obtaining sensitive material of their victims. Here are some methods:
- Identity theft;
- Personal electronic devices theft;
- Malware using to gain access to the victim`s computer (microphone, webcam, files)
- Hacking someone`s computer to get access to the sensitive material;
The cases of sextortion
- Patrick Connolly and Ivory Dickerson victimized more than 3,800 kids. Using a malware, they controlled the computers of their victims remotely. Besides, they sent inappropriate pictures of themselves. Ivory was sentenced to 110 years in prison, while Patrick was sentenced to 30 years in jail.
- Lucas Michael Chansler, 30-year-old man from Jacksonville, Florida was sentenced to 105 years behind the bars for producing and sharing child pornography. Approximately, he extorted over 359 teens from the USA, Canada, and the UK.
- Jared James Abrahams, a student of computer science, was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison after targeting a lot of victims across the globe, including Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. Using malware, he captured naked photos and videos of female victims without their knowledge.
Instant messengers and social media platforms are teemed with online perpetrators who try to lure kids into their trap. The most shocking case of Facebook sextortion is a case of Amanda Todd. Many people remember her from her YouTube video where on paper cards she told all her story. This video was made to describe how one mistake in front of the webcam can lead to torment by bullies at school and on the Internet. Beyond her video, is more difficult and alarming story about the teenager that was driven to suicide not just by bullying, but the deliberate sexual extortion.
Sextortion scams: How to protect from sextortion your teens?
Sextortion is a destructive phenomenon that can deeply harm your kid. The main reason why sexual extortion occurs is the complete absence of any barriers on the Net. In the world of sockpuppet accounts, it is very easy to lure kids into the trap and manipulate them. To minimize risks of being involved into sextortion, parents need to remember about three primary takeaways.
- Kids are in danger at night
Without doubts, online perpetrators can solicit photos at any time of the day. But there is something about being alone at night, as Internet temptation lurks heavier at this time. Parents need to be sure that kids don’t stay awake all night long, surfing the Net. For this reason, Kidgy low-cost cyber nanny may help. With Kidgy parents can simply block Internet usage for sleeping time and don`t worry how the Internet is used at night.
- Know what apps your kid uses
Parents need to be aware what apps kids have on their phone and how they use them. It is essential to be sure that kids understand how to behave online and know that communication with strangers online is prohibited. For example, you may sit together and have a conversation about Internet usage and dangers it may have.
- Talk about Internet pornography
When you give a smartphone to your kid, without any conversation how to behave online, it is the same as to take a kid, who is just learning how to ride, to the top of the highest hill and give a push. In the digital era, there is no place for passive parenting. Parents need have severe and frequent talks about things that are going online. Does your kid know what to do when somebody asks for nude photos? Before having a conversation, parents can make a list of bullet points that should be discussed.
Sextortion: What to do if you are a teen?
For teens it is also important to remember about online safety and follow such tips:
- Don`t engage in a conversation with strangers on the Net;
- Never send sexually explicit images and videos of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or what they are saying;
- Cover the webcam with a sticker or tape when you don’t use it;
- Never open attachments from unknown people;
- Never follow the links sent by unknown senders;
- If you receive threats or any inappropriate requests stop talking to this person and inform your parents;
- If you receive any inappropriate requests, report it to the social media platform where it took place.
The number of sextortion cases continues to rise at breakneck speed, and every parent should let their kids know about this phenomenon. So they can be completely informed before they decide whether or not to send a naked picture.