April 24th, 2024

Online session explores strategies to combat ‘sextortion’

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman For the Lethbridge Herald on May 28, 2021.

Chinook Sexual Assault Centre offered a Lunch and Learn session on Wednesday to provide information about sextortion obtained from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP), sextortion is blackmail, and is defined as when an individual threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you do not pay them or provide more sexual content.
During this unprecedented time of a global pandemic, usage of the Internet has become more important than ever. It has allowed many people to keep in touch with family and friends. But it also has had the potential to become a place for inappropriate behaviour to develop.
This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to teenagers. They are at a very vulnerable stage, where trying to fit in with their peers could potentially become problematic if not addressed properly.
According to the CCCP, technology presents many risks for teenagers. Losing control of personal information or images, contact with people online who act inappropriately, unhealthy boundaries, people mistreated online, and being threatened or blackmailed.
The CCCP operates cybertips.ca, Canada’s national tip line to report child sexual abuse and exploitation on the Internet, as well as other prevention and intervention services to the Canadian public.
One important thing everyone needs to remember is that once something is online, it is there forever. Anyone and everyone can see it and use it.
Presentation facilitators for Chinook Sexual Assault Centre and the CCCP, Maritza Stinson and Miranda Hargreaves, repeatedly stated that pictures and videos of a person under 18 who is naked or semi-naked are not okay to look at, keep, send, post, or take.
The CCCP recommends that if you receive a video or picture, delete it. As a naked picture or video of someone under 18 years old, is considered child pornography and if it’s stored on your phone, you would be considered to be in possession of child pornography, which is illegal.
Sharing nude pictures or videos of another person without their consent is illegal in Canada.
Stinson and Hargreaves, in the information presented by the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre, explained that both boys and girls can be victims of sextortion. Boys are usually blackmailed to send money or additional sexual pictures. Girls are usually blackmailed into sending additional sexual pictures or into getting back together in a dating relationship.
They also explained that in Canada there are criminal offences that cover unwanted or illegal sexual contact, acts that make others feel unsafe, acts that hurt the reputation of another person, acts that violate privacy, underage sexual pictures and videos and sharing someone else’s sexual pictures or videos without their consent.
In a video provided by the CCCP, criminologist Michael Salter, explained the concept of coercion.
“It is an important concept for young people to understand. If someone is making us do something that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, if we felt like we had a choice, but we don’t always know that we’re being coerced.”
This can be achieved by persistently asking for sexual content. The person asking for the sexual content do it so much, that the other ends up giving into it to make them stop.
A person can also be coerced by a form of exchange. It could be done by asking for sexual content in exchange for the same, for a relationship, or for a favour. What some would call a win-win situation when in reality it is a form of coercion.
And this can also be achieved by threatening the other person with distributing sexual content previously obtained if they don’t provide more, according to Salter.
“Young people are actually much more sensible about nude images than adults. The people that most often send nude pics are between 18 to 25 years old,” adds Salter.
The CCCP outlined some strategies for teenagers to employ if they find themselves in a situation involving sextortion:
Sending nudes or engaging in sexual acts using technology creates a record that can easily be misused to cause you humiliation and distress.
Live streaming can be easily recorded, or screen grabbed. Pre-recorded video can be livestreamed. For example, an adult could stream a video of a teenage girl so you may think you’re talking to a teenage girl in real time, when that’s not actually true.
Trust your instincts, be sceptical and cautious, for example if the person you are chatting with on camera has an excuse as to why their camera isn’t working then that person might be trying to hide their identity.
If you are being threatened or demands are being made, never comply with the threat, stop all forms of communications with the individual, block from accounts, deactivate all accounts used to communicate with the individual and speak to a safe adult about what is happening.
For more information or help, contact the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or contact cybertip.ca either online or by calling 1-866-658-9022 if something inappropriate or uncomfortable happens online.
Visit needhelpnow.ca if you need help gaining control of a sexual image or video circulating online. NeedHelpNow.ca is a website that can help if someone has problematic pictures or videos circulating without their consent.

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