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Children as young as 8 being blackmailed with their own sexual images by online criminals

A number of children have died by suicide after falling victim to ‘sextortion’.

Image: Shutterstock/Realstock

CHILDREN ARE DYING by suicide after being blackmailed with their own sexual images for money or sexual favours.

Europol says these crimes are skyrocketing but go largely unreported because victims are embarrassed.

The online coercion and extortion of children is a form of digital blackmail, sometimes referred to as ‘sextortion’.

According to the European police forces, children as young as eight are being targeted.

Boys are targetted for financial gain more than girls, while girls are more often blackmailed for explicit material.

Today Europol launched a ‘Say No’ aimed primarily at children and young people who may be targeted online as victims of online coercion and extortion.

The centrepiece of the campaign is a 10-minute video, portraying two teenagers, a boy and girl, being exploited online either by a criminal organisation for money or by an individual online sexual offender seeking further sexual material.

Source: EUROPOLtube/YouTube

To date, the majority of countries where victims have been targeted are those where English is a primary internet language, such as the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Advice

The Online Child Exploitation Unit (OCEU) at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) is offering advice and says adults as well as children can be victims of this crime.

It says to keep control online and not to share explicit or intimate images with anyone, to use the maximum privacy settings and to be aware that people online may not be who they claim to be.

If you believe you are a victim of this type of crime, you should do the following:

  1. Don’t share more, don’t pay anything.
  2. Look for help. You are not alone.
  3. Preserve evidence. Don’t delete anything.
  4. Stop the communication. Block the person.
  5. Report it to An Garda Siochana.

Gardaí say that crimes of this nature that are reported, will be fully investigated.

They said it’s best that you turn off the device on which the communication took place and have it available for examination by the Garda Síochána.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who heads Special Crime Operations (SCO), within the Garda Síochána, said:

Posting or uploading explicit images on social media, or passing such imagery to others online, is extremely dangerous and can have devastating and lifelong consequences for children and their families.

“Any child who receives a request for naked or explicit photographs should not share any images. We ask them to tell their parents and immediately make contact with the Garda Síochána who will advise them regarding how the matter should be.”

Read: The American student who was released from North Korea last week has died>

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