What is Sextortion?

by dmatson on December 29, 2016

“Sextortion” is the act of threatening someone if they do not send you a revealing, nude, or sexy photo, or “sext“.

It is most commonly an issue with teens and juveniles. For example, if a girl sends her boyfriend a suggestive photo, and the boy threatens the girl with sending it to her parents or friends if she doesn’t send him more photos, or more racy or explicit photos.

It can also happen in more predatory situations with adults threatening teens. In cases where an adult may make a connection with a teen online through social media. Legitimately dangerous predators can friend teens online, and gradually groom them, by listening or helping them out. Then it can escalate into photos, and more photos with threats.

Is Sextortion a crime?

It can be, yes. If it is just teens being manipulative or bullying to one another, then that’s more of a subjective call.

However, if there is actual child nudity that qualifies as child pornography being solicited, then it can easily fall under child pornography laws, which is a serious felony sex offense. Soliciting or possession of pornographic imagery of a minor is nearly always a crime.

Warnings about sexting and sextortion

Parents are always advised to monitor their teen’s online behavior, particularly phone and app behavior with messaging.

Sexting itself is a fairly normal response in the age of smartphones to teen sexual curiosity, exploration, and sexual power dynamics.

Poor decision-making and impulsivity is also a hallmark of the teenage brain. It is a parent’s job to inform and educate their children about the harm possible to a child’s future from any risky online behavior.

Once images are out there, it is easy for them to be circulated indefinitely, and can haunt you for years if they are embarrassing. To say nothing of the harm that can arise from legitimate dangerous predators. These people are not as prevalent as most people think, but it is always worth being careful.


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