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    Naperville Police Highlight “Sextortion” As A Rising Concern

    The Naperville Police Department recently raised awareness about the growing concern of “sextortion,” reminding parents to talk to their children about never sending compromising photos or videos to anyone.

    According to the FBI, sextortion – an effort by an adult to extort money or sexual favors from minors arising from sexually-oriented photos either inadvertently or purposefully sent over the internet – has been rising dramatically since 2013.

    That is when the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) began tracking this disturbing new form of online sexual victimization of children and NCMEC has seen a dramatic increase in sextortion cases being reported.  Based on reports made to NCMEC, children who are victimized are often targeted and blackmailed by an individual they met online and who had obtained a sexual image from the child through deceit, coercion, or some other method.

    Those involved in the sextortion of children often approach a child on social media after using it to learn about the child’s interests, friends, school, family, etc. and intentionally move their communications with the child from one online platform to another (e.g., moving from social media to private video chat or messaging apps), and use tactics to coerce a child, including:

    • Reciprocation (“I’ll show you, if you show me”)
    • Initially offering something to the child, such as money or drugs, in exchange for sexually explicit photos/videos
    • Pretending to work for a modeling agency to obtain sexual images of the child
    • Developing a bond with the child by establishing a friendship/romantic relationship
    • Secretly recording sexually explicit videos of the child during video chats
    • Physically threatening to hurt or sexually assault the child or the child’s family members
    • Using multiple online identities to contact a child 
    • Pretending to be younger and/or a member of the opposite sex
    • Accessing the child’s online account without authorization and stealing sexual images or videos of the child
    • Threatening to create sexual images or videos of the child using digital-editing tools
    • Threatening to commit suicide if the child does not provide sexual images or videos
    • Saving sexually explicit conversations with the child and threatening to post them online

    Parents Should Know These Risk Factors

    According to the NCMEC, there are certain online behaviors that may increase the risk for a child to be a victim of online enticement or sextortion. Some of these behaviors include:

    • Lying about his or her age to access platforms which would allow a child to communicate with older individuals
    • Initiating contact with an individual online or offering to provide sexually explicit images to the individual in exchange for financial compensation, alcohol or drugs, gifts, etc.
    • Sending sexually explicit photos or videos (known as “sexts”) of oneself to another individual

    If parents discover an incidence of sextortion, they should immediately contact the FBI.

    For parents who have discovered that their children have posted inappropriate photos online, resources are available to get them removed from the public domain. Visit https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/isyourexplicitcontentoutthere to learn more.

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