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Online Harms: Sextortion

Sextortion trends you need to know now is seeing some concerning tactics being used be offenders to sextort teens – from creating fake news articles to sugar daddy scams. Here’s what you need to know about these and other ways teens are being targeted, and how to stay safe.

What is sextortion?

Simply put sextortion is blackmail. It’s when someone online threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay the person or provide more sexual content.

How does it happen?

Sextortion usually starts with normal online conversations and then when chats are moved to more private platforms, quickly turn very personal and sexual. The person might use things like flattery or attention bombing to make you feel special, or try to make you feel bad or use sympathy in order to manipulate you into doing what they want. They may demand more videos or to transfer them money. Often they will pretend to be a teen girl or boy to build trust and a connection.

Remember it is super risky to send nudes or live stream sexual acts. You can easily lose control over what happens to it.

What are some red flag behaviours?

If you notice these kinds of behaviours or are feeling uncomfortable, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right it is usually because you don’t have all the information – someone could be deceiving you.

There are ways to get out of these uncomfortable situations, like abruptly stop contact, use humour or make up excuses to stop contact. Or you can simply hit block.

What do if you’re being sextorted

If someone is threatening to share your nude image or video, there is help:

  • Immediately stop all communication. Deactivate (but don’t delete) any of the accounts you are using to communicate with the individual.
  • DO NOT comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and never send additional nudes. Your situation will NOT get better by doing either of these things. If you have paid money, check to see if it has been collected and, if not, quickly cancel the payment.
  • Reach out for help and report it. Tell an adult who will help you, and report what has happened to or contact police in your jurisdiction. Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to a safe adult so they can help you get through this situation. Dealing with sextortion is too big to manage on your own.
  • Keep the correspondence. Keep information such as the person’s username(s), social media account information, a copy of the communications, along with any images and/or videos that were sent.

Resources for youth

Resources for parents and educators