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What starts out as a flirtatious text can quickly turn into a whirlwind of trouble for your child.

In this article

Predators and scammers will text your teen to try to develop a relationship by sending flirtatious and fun texts. They will say anything to help develop a relationship and connection all to set the trap.

The moment your child takes and sends the explicit pictures, it is far too late, the trap has been sprung and the scammer is prepared to take full advantage.

Panic is the Natural Response

Your child starts to panic. The person they trusted is suddenly threatening to release the pictures on your child’s social media. The person pulls names of friends and family members saying that they will personally message them the pictures and show them what they’ve done. Sometimes going so far to locate your child’s school threatening to post there to all of your peers, but then they’ll give your teen a way out.

If your child pays $500, then nothing will happen. No pics will be sent, and all of this can go away. The stress that your child is feeling is overwhelming, there’s a way out, but $500 is a lot of money. Thoughts of hopelessness, fear, anxiety and depression creep in as they’ve locked themselves in a corner with no way out and zero relief on the horizon.

Sextortion is Humiliating

To open up about it to a parent can be humiliating, and other thoughts of ways out can start to creep in. Teens that reported sextortion cases found that 1 in 3 teens had engaged in self-harm, threatened suicide or attempted suicide as a result of the sextortion.

It’s difficult when teenagers are constantly searching for gratification and acceptance. With that, hormones can play a major part and cloud judgment. They are learning all the new and exciting things becoming an adult holds, and to explore all of that is a thrilling adventure, but such choices can have major consequences that can affect years to come.

Sextortion is Avoidable

The sad part is that sextortion is 100% avoidable. With social media, your teen can instantly connect with anyone they would like, not knowing if they are real or fake. Everyday millions of messages are sent out to strangers to try to connect with them for a multitude of reasons, and predators will always search for a way in.

What you can do as a parent

So what can you do to ensure that your child never falls victim to this trap? Firstly, be sure to have open conversations with them about these kinds of threats. Educate yourself and them on the dangers of the world, and what people will do to take advantage. Recommend to them that they never message and text strangers they don’t know.

Most of all, especially with people they know, never send out explicit messages, pictures, or videos. Nothing good will ever come of that, and there are also legal actions that can be taken against your child for sending such pictures.

How and When Does it Happen?

Sextortion most commonly occurred via phone/tablet messaging apps, social networking sites and video chats. 56% of reports indicated that only one messenger platform was involved, yet 42% used multiple platforms. The offender would intentionally and systematically move the communication with the teen from one platform to another such as Facebook, Snapchat and text messages.

When your child sends the pictures or videos, 80% of predators will threaten blackmail on the same day. However, 20% of the reported cases indicated prolonged waiting periods before any threats of blackmail were made with the acquired content. In some cases, years later. With such blackmail and payouts victims lost more than $13.6 million in the 18,000 sextortion-related complaints in 2021.

Warning Signs & Predator Tactics

Those who your teen is talking to are rarely who they claim to be. Keep in mind that the teenage girl they believe they are speaking to may very well be a middle aged man. There are certain tactics to keep in mind that the predator may use such as:

  • Reciprocation, the offender promises to provide sexual content in return for your child providing the same. “I’ll show you, if you show me.”
  • Developing a bond by establishing a friendship/romantic relationship.
  • Secretly recording sexually explicit videos of the child during video chats.
  • Physically threatening to hurt or sexually assault the child or family members.
  • Using multiple online identities against a given child, such as the person blackmailing for sexual content as well as pretending to be a supportive friend or a sympathetic victim of the same offender.
  • Pretending to be younger and/or a female.
  • Threatening to commit suicide if the child does not provide sexual content.
  • Creating a fake profile as the child and threatening to post sexual content of the child.
  • Saving sexually explicit conversations with the child and threatening to post them online.

There is Hope

You and your family never need to become a victim of sextortion. Take the steps necessary and educate your child on the threats that exist around them. The online presence of predators and bullies are very real, but as we take the proper steps to prepare and protect our children, we can have peace of mind when facing the dangers of the world.