Parents, do you know what your child is doing online? More importantly, do you know who they are talking to? Whether you answered yes or no, the FBI has a major warning for parents on just how predators are going after your children.
Authorities want to make sure parents are in the know— that's why they've launched a national campaign called #StopSextortion.
The FBI launched it to warn parents, educators, caregivers and children about the dangers of online activity.
According to the FBI, sextortion occurs when an adult threatens or manipulates a minor into making and sending a sexually explicit photo or video through the internet. Experts say that predators will often prey on children who use social media or the internet for things like gaming, and then they'll groom the child into taking part in inappropriate behavior.
"The predators will befriend the victims, oftentimes portraying themselves as children their own age. They'll guilt them into a false sense of security," FBI Houston Supervisory Special Agent Brian Greohoski said. "After that, they'll either dare them or bully them into creating some kind of gesture, something as simple as flashing, or another sexual gesture."
The FBI says it doesn't stop there. Predators will then record those incidents and then turn around and threaten to release those images to the world if the victim doesn't continue to send more.
Cases like these are on the rise in Houston and across the nation, according to the FBI. They also say that victims are usually between the ages of 10 to 17, but this can certainly happen to anyone at any age, especially children, so it's critical to be extra vigilant.
Here are some important tips the FBI wants children to know.
- Many people online are not who they say they are.
- Don't talk to people you don't know online.
- Any content produced on a web-enabled device can be made public.
- If you are being threatened or coerced online, tell someone.
The FBI says you can call 1-800-CALL-FBI or report.cybertip.org if you need to make a report on sextortion.