WINNIPEG, MB: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, through its Cybertip.ca program, is warning parents of teenagers about a new tactic being used by those extorting youth online for sexual images/videos and money. Cybertip.ca has received numerous reports over the last year relating to sextortion, which involves offenders secretly recording teenagers exposing themselves on platforms that allow for live-streaming video and then using the recording to threaten distribution unless the teen pays money. Sextortionists have now advanced their approach to include other teenagers within the same social peer group.
Within social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Skype), friends are being shown the sexual image/video of their peer and then told that if they don’t share a sexual image of themselves, the offender will distribute the already recorded sexual image/video of their friend. If the youth complies with the request and shares a sexual image/video, they are then extorted for money, with financial demands ranging from $200 - $1,000, to allegedly prevent the content from being shared publicly.
“We are imploring parents of teenage children to be proactive and discuss the growing issue of young people and their peers being extorted for sexual pictures/videos and money,” says Signy Arnason, Director of Cybertip.ca. “The best ways to counter the ever-evolving tactics used by offenders is to proactively educate teens about emerging issues and stress the importance of never complying with threats.”
“We see many instances where the teenager feels responsible for having sexually exposed themselves online and being manipulated and tricked by the offender,” says Sergeant Caroline Girard, Sûreté du Québec. “This can result in less kids coming forward which we don’t want to see happen. Rarely do these individuals have only one victim so parents need to be vigilant in talking with their teens and always encourage youth to come forward and report what has happened.”
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is strongly recommending that parents discuss this issue with their teens. It is imperative to stress the importance of never complying with threats, as this only makes the situation worse. It is also vital to discuss the risks associated with sexually exposing oneself or engaging in sexual activity over livestreaming video. Parents should remind their teens about the importance of coming forward if they or their peers are facing concerning online situations.
Visit https://cybertip.ca/youth_internet_safety for more information and sign up for Cybertip.ca Alerts at https://cybertip.ca/alerts to stay informed about emerging trends impacting the online safety of youth.