A national family advocacy group has released an advisory about a troubling new online phenomenon called sextortion.
ParentsTogether says online sexual predators are doctoring photos and videos of children into sexual images or sexual situations. The offender then shows the victim the edited images and threatens to release them to their parents, friends, school, or social media unless the child sends them more, often increasingly graphic, photos or videos and in some cases money as well.
ParentsTogether says the advisory comes after multiple reports of this happening in various states to kids as young as 7. According to research from Thorn, 1 in 5 nine-to-12 year olds have had an online sexual interaction where they were asked to send nude photographs or videos.
ParentsTogether urges families to talk with younger children about the dangers of interaction with strangers or their peers online. ParentsTogether is also urging tech companies to do more to protect young children online from sexual predators.
To report this kind of child online exploitation, contact local law enforcement as well as the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Child Exploitation Task Force by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or by calling (312) 814-3505. You can also contact the Springfield FBI field office at (217) 522-9675 , call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at tips.fbi.gov.