Winnipeg, MB: With more youth spending time online during the pandemic, there has been an 88% increase in reports to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, including a form a victimization called sextortion.
For Safer Internet Day, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), which operates Cybertip.ca, has launched a series of videos for youth. These short clips address what sextortion is, how it can happen, and how youth can get help, while the accompanying website offers prevention material for families and educators to help protect youth from being victimized.
Simply put, sextortion is blackmail. It’s when someone online threatens to send a sexual image or video of the child/youth to other people if they don’t pay the person or provide more sexual content.
On average, Cybertip.ca receives 40 sextortion reports a month. Many of the reports involve offenders connecting with youth through social media and live stream platforms like Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Omegle. It is shame, guilt, and fear that keeps youth from telling anyone they are being sextorted, so the number of reports do not necessarily reflect the true scope of this growing problem.
“We want to remind youth they don’t have to deal with difficult online situations alone. There is help,” says Signy Arnason, Associate Executive for C3P, adding contacting Cybertip.ca is a good place to start if youth are in crisis. “Cybertip.ca can help youth gain back control of the situation, including the removal of images or videos posted online.”
Cybertip.ca also provides families and educators with prevention information regarding how sextortion can happen, talking points to have with youth about the issue, and how to help a youth who’s been sextorted.
Cybertip.ca offers five steps to take if a youth is being sextorted:
- Stay calm and report it. Immediately report what has happened to Cybertip.ca or contact police in your jurisdiction.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speak to a safe adult about what is happening. 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.
For more information and resources, visit cybertip.ca/sextortion.