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Sexting & Sextortion-How to prevent your children from becoming victims of online predators

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

Sexting and Sextortion is now a felony offense in California. Online predators approach a child on social media or a gaming platform. They are adept at either pretending to be another child and befriending yours or playing the role of the concerned adult. They win your child's trust and then talk them into sharing pictures that may seem innocent enough at first. It's online; what's the harm?

The demand for more explicit photos is the goal of the predator. For some reason, your kid’s stranger-danger alert is not as tuned into the online world as the physical world. The predator becomes more demanding, trying kindness and gifts first, and if that does not work, then threatening to harm the child, their family, or release pictures to their friends and schoolmates.

How do you know who can be trusted online?

That’s what is so hard about online connections. The FBI has found that those who commit this crime may have dozens of different online accounts and profiles and are communicating with many young people at the same time—trying to find victims.

Be extremely cautious when you are speaking with someone online who you have not met in real life. It's easy to think: I'm on my phone, in my own house, what could happen? But you can very quickly give a criminal the information and material he needs to do you harm.

But how can this harm me?

It's true that these criminals don't usually meet up with kids in real life, but the victims of this crime still experience negative effects. The criminals can become vicious and non-stop with their demands, harassment, and threats—victims report feeling scared, alone, embarrassed, anxious, and desperate. Many feel like there’s no way out of the situation.

What do I do if this is happening to me?

If you are ready, reach out to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or report the crime online at Our agents see these cases a lot and have helped thousands of young people. Our goals are to stop the harassment, arrest the person behind the crime, and help you get the support you need.

If you’re not feeling ready to speak to the FBI, go to another trusted adult. Tell them you are being victimized online and need help. Talking about this can feel impossible, but there are people who can help. You are not the one in trouble.

How can you say I won’t be in trouble?

You are not the one who is breaking the law. This situation can feel really confusing, and the criminals count on you feeling too unsure, scared, or embarrassed to tell someone. Even if this started on an app or site that you are too young to be on. Even if you felt okay about making some of the content. Even if you accepted money or a game credit or something else, you are not the one who is in trouble. Sextortion is a crime because it is illegal and wrong for an adult to ask for, pay for, or demand graphic images from a minor.

How can I help someone else who is in this situation?

If you learn a friend, classmate, or family member is being victimized, listen to them with kindness and understanding. Tell them you are sorry that this is happening to them and that you want to help. Let them know that they are the victim of a crime and have not done anything wrong. Encourage them to ask for help and see if you can help them identify a trusted adult to tell.

How do I protect myself and my friends?

Your generation can be the generation that shuts down these criminals. Awareness and sensible safety practices online, along with a willingness to ask for help, can put an end to this exploitation. The FBI agents who work on these cases want you to know these six things:

  1. Be selective about what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you.

  2. Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.

  3. Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be. Images can be altered or stolen.

  4. Be suspicious if you meet someone on one game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.

  5. Be in the know. Any content you create online—whether a text message, photo, or video—can be made public. And once you send something, you don't have any control over where it goes next.

  6. Be willing to ask for help. If you are getting messages or requests online that don't seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the site administrator or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone.

Additional Information

For more information on this topic, join us for our upcoming July Coffee Meet Up,

Global Hope 365 Coffee Meetup Educational Series

July 17, 2021 @ 10:00AM — 11:00AM Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Sexting and Sextortion: How do these issues impact our teens?

We will hear from Geri Williams, Deputy District Attorney, Juvenile Sexual Assault Prosecutor for Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

To learn more, see the link below: Education, Prevention,

Become an advocate for Girls, Women, and our Human Rights. Be part of the solution.

To learn more about Global Hope 365’s work to end Child Marriage and Human Sex Trafficking, visit

Global Hope 365 site Global Hope

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