‘Sextortion’ has been an issue for over a decade, with many adults falling victim to this type of online crime. It is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share intimate images of you unless you give in to their demands. Organised criminal gangs across Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa connect to their victims via social media, chat apps, instant messaging platforms and online games. More recently though there has been a higher rate of adolescent males falling victim, that is not to say that young females are not also targeted.
Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a 400% increase in this type of crime being reported to police in Australia alone. However, these figures are being replicated in most western countries. Having an understanding of how your young person can fall victim to such an offender may help to protect them from engaging or conceding to their demands. It is vitally important for parents and carers to be aware of this serious issue and to start having an age-appropriate conversation as early as possible. Be aware that even with an online account set to private, random people can still message your child. Emphasise to your young person the importance of only engaging online with people they actually know, not someone they think they might know.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. Young people who fall victim to these offenders will feel distressed and blame themselves. Let them know that no matter what, they can come to you and ask for help, and that there is nothing so bad that they cannot come to you. Managing devices can be difficult especially with older teens, but it is important to weigh up the risks and the dangers. Sadly, even good kids who never make a poor decision elsewhere in their life, can and do make poor choices online. The information presented in this report is intended to alert and not alarm parents and caregivers of this potential issue.
Further information and resources relating to this topic can be accessed via the following websites: