Online sexual coercion and extortion

As a parent it is important you teach young people about online safety, making sure they understand
how, what, and who to communicate with.

What is online sexual coercion?

This is where someone is coerced into sending images of a sexual nature. According to Europol, there are two main objectives of online sexual coercion.

  • A sexual interest in children: to get sexual material (photos and/or videos depicting the young person) or a sexual encounter in real life.
  • An economic interest: to gain financially from the extortion.

It has become such an issue that Europol have created an awareness campaign for it. Most young people who have experienced it are too embarrassed to tell anyone about it.

Learning to listen to warning signs

In face-to-face situations it can be easy to know if a person is suspicious. The body movements and facial expressions may give it away.

Sometimes young people have an upper hand understanding technology but as a parent, you have life and bigger picture experience. You have been in contact with others longer, and maybe more
often, than your child.

>> Take a look at talking about online communication

Question everything

Young people are unfortunately now growing up in a world of numbers, likes, shares, online friends and followers. It’s for this reason they may not question certain relationships.

Teach young people to question strangers who want to befriend them. This could be asking about family members, pets, education or job status.

These things are general and can allow for a stranger to reveal themselves when something doesn’t add up.

Saying no

The most important thing is making young people understand that they have every right to say no and should when someone is asking them to send intimate imagery.

Unfortunately, it is young people who are feeling a bit isolated that are more vulnerable to this kind of behaviour. Encourage young people to get involved in things that will boost their self-esteem.

When someone has been affected

If you know a young person that has been or is a victim of online sexual coercion, make sure they know they’re not alone.

Being a supportive and non-judgmental parent can make a huge difference to how they deal with it. Encouraging people to seek help as soon as it happens can lead to early detection of this crime and a higher chance of catching those responsible.

>> Find out more about the Europol campaign

Talk about alcohol ahead of exam celebrations

The Leaving and Junior Cert exams are nearly over, and with that, celebrations for young people can mean alcohol is involved.

alcohol cabinetWhile young people deserve to celebrate after their exams, parents need to realise they have a big role to play in highlighting alternative opportunities for blowing off steam, rather than it all about centered around alcohol.

Having open conversations around the facts about alcohol before celebrations begin, will help young people if they find themselves in drinking situations.

Talk about it

Have an open discussion about their plans for the night they finish their exams. Ask who they’ll be with and where, and will there be alcohol.

As part of this discussion set some boundaries for this and other nights out around alcohol. Talk about the consequences for breaking the rules. Remember you need to be able to follow through on these.

Make it a conversation

Young people get enough lectures in school. A lecture from a parent on the use of alcohol could miss some important considerations.

Making this a conversation shows that you care about what they have to say and want to hear their thoughts.

Be honest

This can be the most important way to talk about alcohol. With information being widely available, it is crucial to give both good and bad for the use of alcohol. Part of being honest is not to exaggerate the bad and minimise the good.

Show understanding

This is sometimes hard for parents to do as the responses from your child may not be something you agree with. Try and look at things from your son or daughter’s point of view.

This doesn’t mean you agree with it, but gives you an opportunity to explore their views.

Be clear and firm

Make sure they understand the rules, and intend to follow them. Reiterate the consequences.

Managing without alcohol

Make sure to talk to other parents of your son or daughter’s peers and make what you have discussed known.

Work out an alternative night together.  Would it be possible to host a party in your home?

Safety first

Remind them that they can call or text you if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point during the night.

‘It’s all about him’ for Men’s Health Week 2017

This year for Men’s Health Week it’s all about him, and men are being asked “How are you doing?”.

If the answer is ‘not very well’, then it’s time to make a positive change.

men's health week 2017 posterWhat’s it all about?

Each year Men’s Health Week has three goals:

  • Raise awareness of preventable health issues
  • Enable men and boys to live healthier lifestyles
  • Encourage early detection and treatment of health issues.

For all the family

No man is an island, so everyone has a role to play in minding men’s health.

This includes health professionals, sporting clubs, along with family and friends of any man. So, pretty much everybody then!

Try to encourage a regular “how are you doing?” in your family.

Physical and mental health

Men’s wellbeing and physical health are very closely linked and both need continuous maintenance.

Healthier lifestyles, monitoring, detection and treatment will go a long way to preventing premature death in men.

How can I get involved?

The Men’s Health Forum have put together a manual to help men (and others) look after their wellbeing.

From alcohol to healthy eating, the manual outlines easy actions and where to find more information.

The Men’s Health Forum website for details of the manual and events that are on around the country this week.

Get in the habit of checking in with each other as a family.

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