We have all seen the old mobster movies where the crime family in charge tries to extort money from the poor local business owner. It makes you shake your head and be glad you live in a different era. But do you? With new technology comes new crimes. As adults, it is important to stay informed on trending crimes, especially when minors are the target. And now there is a new crime targeting our young people. Sextortion is a crime where perpetrators coerce young girls into sending photos of themselves naked and then they are traded, sold, or used on the internet.
You might say, “That would never happened to my daughter.” Yet these perpetrators prey on unsuspecting females and who they believe will be easy to compel to give them naked photos. The offenders play mind games and use a line like this to begin the coercion: “I have naked photos of you and I will show them to all your friends if you don't send me more pictures of yourself.” This kind of mind game makes the victim feel helpless and powerless to the perpetrator. There have been victims who have never taken nude photos of themselves, but they were so manipulated through the messages they then felt pressure to comply.
This crime moves quickly and quietly. In a recent CNN report FBI Assistant Director Joseph Campbell said "sextortion is a growing threat both domestically and internationally. The devastating impact of these crimes on the victims, their family and friends cannot be ignored." Parents have to be involved in the usage of your teen's cell phone, tablet, and laptop. Many parents fight the battle of privacy, but often the very privacy you are giving them as a reward could lead to their own demise. The privacy you are giving them could be the very thing that is endangering them. Get involved. You need to look at their pictures, messages, see their “friends” or “followers” online, talk to other parents, look at their photos, search history, deleted folder, etc. There are many apps, resources, and computer programs to help you monitor their activity and provide parameters to help your child have safety.
Most importantly: TALK. Talk about the new crimes that are trending among teens. Discuss your family's values about their body. Keep the lines of communication open so when they receive a text or social media message asking for nude photos make sure they come tell you right away-- and make sure there are not consequences for being open and honest. Many teens will not come forward because they are embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid. If they do come to you contact the authorities immediately and work together to help end this violating crime targeting our young women.
Source--FBI: Sextortion a growing threat as seen on CNN
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.