Sextortion: The Growing Fad In Child Exploitation

Sextortion: The Growing Fad In Child Exploitation

Today, online child-predators are increasingly using the sexual content sent by children as blackmail.

Today it is easier than ever for children to be exposed to mature adult content on the internet, which also means that child predators have more access than ever to their prey. With apps like Kik, that ask for no age verification, infinite chat rooms and message boards, social media, and video games, the epidemic of online child predation is only continuing to grow.

Approximately 95 percent of children ages 12-15 are online, and one in five U.S. teenagers have been solicited by unknown internet users. Solicitations were defined as "requests to engage in sexual activities, sexual talk, or to give out personal sexual information." In addition, at least 20 percent of those solicited submitted to the online user's sexual requests.

The reality is, this generation of kids faces real life consequences at a much younger age. Sexting, naked selfies, and cyber-bullying can lead to serious life-changing events.

But predators have gotten even more demanding over the years. "Sextortion," the act by predators of first requesting sexual videos or photos from child-prey, then using the sexual content as a form of blackmail, is becoming increasingly more popular.

In one particular case during September of 2015, two freshmen at Colorado University Boulder reported being victims of sextortion themselves. "In that case, a woman calling herself Queenie Lee threatened to post inappropriate photos taken during a Skype conversation if the students didn't wire hundreds of dollars."

According to the FBI, however, these types of crimes are not usually about money -- it is more about fulfilling some kind of sexual fantasy. Sometimes the predators will threaten to tell the child's parents, sometimes it's about money, or sometimes it's just the predator's method they use to continue to get more content from the child.

And Sextortion cases are more frequent than you think. According to USA Today, there has been an increase in sextortion complaints from 5,300 in 2010 to 7,000 in 2013, a 32 percent rise in three years.

Victims of sextortion is not just restricted to the immediate sexual and emotional abuse imposed by the offender. In releasing a new “National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction” in April, the Justice Department made clear that sextortion has numerous tragic consequences. “Sextortion victims engage in cutting, have depression, drop out of school or grades decline, as well as engage in other forms of self-harm at an alarming rate. In fact, a 2015 FBI analysis of 43 sextortion cases involving child victims revealed at least two victims committed suicide and at least ten more attempted suicide. Thus, at least 28 percent of these cases had at least one sextortion victim who committed or attempted suicide.”

A 13-year-old girl named Amanda Todd is among the best-known victims of sextortion. In 2010, the Canadian girl showed her breasts during a video chat on the web. The recipient then messaged her on Facebook and demanded more, or else. When Todd refused to cooperate, the recipient shipped a photo to Todd’s Facebook friends. In 2012, she posted a moving video about her predicament. Soon after, she committed suicide.

Here is Todd's video:

Ultimately, we must better inform parents, teens, and young adults about the high risk and growing epidemic of sextortion. The Justice Department said it was collaborating with NCMEC to distribute materials to law enforcement and social services presenters across the country, to increase awareness of sextortion. The department also said it would develop training for prosecutors on investigation and prosecution of sextortion cases.

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.

I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Staying Quiet Is Never The Answer

Never hold in anything—always talk to someone.


"Talk to someone" may be a phrase used all of the time, but I'm serious when I say, talk to someone.

I cannot stress enough the importance of talking to someone when you are going through anything difficult that is bringing you down. Believe me when I say that this is something I had to learn myself. I'm the queen of not talking about anything to anyone and wearing my, "Everything is okay" mask, but that is one of the most unhealthy things you can do. Holding everything in is so damaging to you emotionally and mentally. When you bottle everything, it will eventually all come out and it will be on someone you are close to who had no idea about anything you tell them.

My reason for not talking was always that my problems would add a burden to someone else and I never wanted to do that; the truth is, those that care about you think more about ways they can help than your problems being a burden for them. I've always been the person to hold everything in until it got to be too much and then I would explode on one of the people closest to me; not only was that damaging to me, but it was damaging to my relationship with that person as well.

Talking to someone is one of the most serious things you can do. People have been placed in your life as people you can vent to and tell everything to. I'm not saying vent to everyone in your life, but find at least one person you can trust and talk to them. The more you talk to people and let them in, the easier it gets to become something you do normally and the easier life gets. Even if you don't want to talk to someone close to you, there are hotlines you can call and talk to people who literally do that as their job. Your problems are not a burden and do not need to be held inside.

Talk to someone; the more you do it, the easier it gets.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


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