|What is Sextortion?|
American legislation and law enforcement in general have had success in catching up with modern crimes. For instance, child pornography and exploitation were supposed to be very tricky offenses to catch, but with the latest breakthroughs in law enforcement technology, most police departments are able to apprehend pedophiles, sex offenders, and the like.
But there’s one particular breed of exploitation that has been considerably plaguing most American teens nowadays – sextortion. Although it is closely related to child pornography and trafficking, it is by far more elusive and alien for authorities.
Sextortion is basically a type of extortion with a twist. Instead of extorting money or material goods from a victim, a sextortionist will extract sexual favors from the victim by using intimidation, fear, and blackmail. The likely victims of this new type of exploitation are teens since they possess many if not all of the risk factors associated with it.
CBS News and The Associated Press have actually come upon this issue way back. But because of the embarrassment and shame connected to it, teen victims will likely keep the issue to themselves rather than risk being seen by the public in a not so flattering manner. According to these news agencies, more and more American teens are conveniently embracing the benefits of technology to the extent that they aren’t concerned about the ill effects and negative consequences brought by it.
Because of technology like the use of mobile phones and internet, they go as far as taking photos of themselves naked or showing a part of their body using a camera or phone and then uploading them to the web. This also often goes on without the parents being aware. Sometimes even under their own roof. On top of this, there are an unknown number of online predators and sex offenders out there that surf the web to find potential victims.
What happens next is really unfortunate. When a sextortionist (who is usually a sex offender) grabs any photo of a teen naked or anything that shows sensuality, he uses this as a weapon for blackmail. He then finds a way to contact or reach the teen in the photo and then tells her to send more images or videos or else he will tell everyone about her secret. She is left with no choice but to send more material just for the sextortionist to refrain from placing her under a cloud of embarrassment and shame.
The teen is eventually put on a state of fear and confusion. Would she fight back and resist the blackmail and eventually let the photos or videos leak to the public? Or is she willing to provide additional material just to keep everything as a secret between her and the sextortionist. For a very young teen, this decision is too much of a burden.
Just like child pornography, sextortion is considered a crime. No one has the right to extort sexual material from someone. This is especially disturbing because threats, deceit, fear, and blackmail are used.
It’s like teens are actually putting their dignity and life at risk every time they try to do something like this to feel daring. So as parents, your concerns of having your children use the internet are increased because of the emergence of this new type of abuse. Whether your teen likes it or not, there is an urgent need to control or at least monitor web access just to make sure no one’s creeping under your children’s computer trying to dig out something.
More important than that, there is a need to monitor what kind of pictures and content your teenager is posting of herself or himself online. Remember to check their cell phone pictures as well as their computer. Of course, the computer cannot be in their room and they can only access it when others are around. This is not about invading their privacy or ruining their fun; it is about protecting them from the evil and temptation that you as a parent know is out there in cyberspace. Also, try and connect with your teen. Let them know about your own struggles and mistakes. Popular culture puts an immense amount of sexual pressure on boys and girls. They need to understand that your rules are not just there so you can be high and mighty, but rather because you want to protect them from heartache you experienced.