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

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