Discussion Guide

Sextortion: Prevention & Response

Sextortion is when someone blackmails / threatens to expose a sexual image in order to make a person do something they don’t want to do, like send more photos or send money. Learning about how sextortion happens and what to do to protect your child is an important step in guiding a dialogue to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Need help now? Visit our help page to find resources and information.

Introduction

Why talking about this is important

This type of abuse can be traumatic and isolating. Kids experiencing sextortion often do not see themselves as victims and instead believe it is their fault this is happening to them. They can feel shame, fear, hopelessness, and isolation. They often worry that they might get in trouble with their parents or be suspended from school. These fears can even be suggested by the abuser to maintain control, and sadly these things do happen.

In this guide you will:

  • Use your words and actions to show your child that you will always be there for them, no matter what.
  • Create a non-judgemental space for your child to feel however they are feeling about the situation.
  • Have an open dialogue about what to do if your child ends up in a tricky situation, like sextortion.
  • Get examples of how to talk through sextortion scenarios with your child and give them resources to help.

What to expect from your kid

Even if you think they know you’ll support them, having these conversations can make a big difference in them sharing their experiences with you when something feels off or goes wrong. They will likely be uncomfortable with this topic, so consider adding in a bit of appropriate humor to address the awkwardness and help put them at ease (find inspiration from our cat video about sextortion).

First steps

How to start talking

Being equipped with knowledge ahead of time will help you resist panicking in the moment and give you the tools you need to help them through it. Fear and frustration is normal, which is why it is essential to take time to feel grounded and capable of guiding them through tough situations together. Remember to take time to pause and put your own oxygen mask on first. Be thoughtful about where, when, and how you initiate these conversations. Here are some moments to think about starting the conversation:
  • They are starting to spend more time on social media.
  • The topic is covered in a movie or TV show you are watching.
  • They tell you about something similar that happened to someone they know.
  • They’re starting to date.
  • You’re having an ongoing check in with them about digital safety.

Has anyone ever sent you a sexual picture or sext?

Conversation Script

Let's play this out

Related Discussion Guides

We know sextortion happens because the abusers rely on the person harmed feeling shame and embarrassment. The more conversations you have about it, the more comfortable your child will be coming to you if there’s a dangerous situation. Check out these complimentary discussion guides.

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