Protecting children against sexual extortion

Important Information You Should Know

  • Sextortion, a severe form of online blackmail, is something you need to be aware of.
  • Sexual extortion can occur on any platform that allows interaction, such as image and video sharing, instant messaging apps, or social media platforms.
  • Disturbingly, perpetrators may exploit young individuals by attempting to capture explicit or sexual images of them while they are live streaming or on video. These images are often used as leverage for the purpose of extortion.
  • There have been cases where young people have been coerced into sending one explicit image, only to be subjected to demands for more images and threats to expose their content.
  • Typically as the statistical reports of the Italian anti-extortion centre show ricatto sessuale these demands involve requesting further sexual images, engaging in sexual acts, or even extorting money.
  • Offenders employ manipulative tactics to make young individuals believe there is no way out of the situation, often by threatening to distribute their content online to family, friends, and acquaintances.
  • This crime thrives on fear, coercion, and manipulation. In addition to facing threats and coercion, victims often feel a sense of wrongdoing. They fear being punished by their parents or guardians or even facing legal consequences if their actions are discovered.
  • If your child has fallen victim to this crime, it is important to reassure them that it is not their fault and that assistance is available. It is crucial to remember that children and young individuals are never at fault for becoming victims of online child sexual exploitation.

How can I ensure the safety of children aged 12 and under?

  • To ensure the safety of your child online, it is important to provide supervision and be aware of their usage of connected devices.
  • Take the time to check if the apps and games your child uses have a direct messaging feature, as this can facilitate communication with strangers.
  • Teach your child to always decline any requests for images or videos from individuals they encounter online.
  • Considering that children in this age group often utilize connected devices for gaming or video-streaming purposes, it is crucial to be mindful of services that offer direct messaging or chat functions, as these can allow unfettered access to your child if privacy settings are not properly configured.
  • By maintaining a level of supervision and utilizing technological settings, you can effectively prevent inappropriate contact and ensure the safety of your child.
  • Furthermore, it is important to educate your child about the importance of leaving any online conversations that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Lastly, make sure your child understands that they should always seek your help if someone requests them to share any type of image online. This could be an indication that something is not right, and immediate action should be taken.

How can I assist children aged 12 and above?

  • Engage in open and non-judgmental discussions about your child’s online interactions.
    Learn how to take necessary actions, including reporting and blocking.
    Provide support to your child. It’s important to understand that they may be hesitant to seek help if they are afraid of being reprimanded for their online activities.
    In this age group, your child might be at risk of being preyed upon through social networking platforms, image or video sharing apps, or instant messaging services, with the intention of coercing them into creating and sharing sexually exploitative content.
  • The initial interaction with the offender might involve compliments, flattery, or the offer of something valuable in exchange for content.
  • Once an image is shared, the offender may escalate the situation by making demands for more content, using threats to coerce compliance.
  • Simply “switching off” a device or uninstalling a social media app won’t make the problem disappear. There can be offline consequences for your child, as they may live with the fear that their content could be shared at any moment if they fail to meet the offender’s demands.
  • We want young people in such situations to know that nothing is so terrible that they can’t confide in someone, and assistance is available.
  • These situations can be distressing, so it is important to reassure your child that they are not to blame. Your support and reassurance will help them navigate the situation.

If your child becomes a victim of sexual extortion, consider the following steps:

  • Refrain from sending more images. Once your child complies with the demands, there is no guarantee that they won’t be targeted again.
  • Block the individual on all social media platforms, as well as their phone number and email.
  • Report the matter to the police.
  • If child abuse material has been shared online, report it to the eSafety Commissioner, who can aid in the removal of the content.
  • Always prioritize your child’s well-being. A list of support services is available to assist you.
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