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.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: https://cbsdenver.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/cu-sextortion-10pkg-tran6sfer.jpg?w=1500https://images.mic.com/3oikhstix599r9ahnizskdrjg1xij1dvmq83oadddjd3u164phpzdcvm0ihvrbrh.jpg

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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My Story As A Recovering Self-Harmer

Content warning: Self-harm.

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Since high school, I have physically and knowing self-harmed as a way to distract myself. It has been almost 7 years and right now I have only been a few months clean. In the past 7 years, I have relapsed more than a couple of times. I have gone months at a time and found myself at a breaking point.

I know it's nobody's business and it might be oversharing but this is meant for primary readers. For those who are going through recovery or just began today. If secondary or tertiary readers stumble upon this then I hope it helps you understand from the other side.

I am still recovering. The thing about addiction is that you can never fully be "cured." You can be clean for years and still relapse. The key is to decide to try again.

I call it an addiction because it was. I grabbed the razor before I could even understand why I was numb. I did it multiple times a day and sometimes I didn't need an actual reason.

It was a sort of ripple effect. I couldn't stop the ripples into turning into the next one and instead, I just watched as they spread. One second I was OK and the next I locked the door.

Some people smoke and some people drink. I hate the smell of smoke and can't stand the taste of alcohol but I often wish I could use those as a distraction for my distraction. I do many things now to distract myself from getting too close to another relapse. I let out a scream to alarm my family or I start running. The first few seconds of the attempt are the hardest. It's an internal pain that makes you itch inside out.

After a few minutes have passed I can usually begin to calm myself. I sit down and remind myself that everything is OK. It isn't always easy so calling a friend is always an option.

Sometimes I end up crying in order to release all the built-up emotions. When minutes have passed and I am still filled with tears I force myself to grab something to eat. I have realized that I can't cry and eat at the same time. I grab anything. Sometimes my siblings make me something instead.

I am seeking professional help for those who are wondering. I am almost half a year clean and I have two caring and supportive friends and a family who does their best to understand and support me.

Recovery is not easy when it comes to mental illness because the results aren't always visible like a broken bone. Any amount of self felt recovery is amazing. It's a step towards a better you. Talking to people and seeking professional help are all steps.

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

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