- Attorney General Moody is warning Floridians about the alarming increase in sextortion of minors
- Sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate, according to law enforcement
- The DOJ also published resources to help Americans recognize online exploitation and sextortion and report it
Attorney General Ashley Moody and several federal law enforcement agencies are sounding the alarm on the rise of child sexual exploitation.
In a Tuesday press release, Moody warned Floridians of the alarming increase in “sextortion,” a crime where sexual predators trick their victims into sending sexually explicit content and then use those images as blackmail.
“Sextortion cases are on the rise nationwide and thousands of minors are being targeted and victimized. Parents and guardians, please talk to your children about this disturbing crime and make sure they know not to take or send explicit images to anyone. Keep an open dialog with your children and urge them to tell you if they are ever asked to exchange inappropriate content,” said Moody.
Last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that 3,000 minors, mostly boys between 14 and 17, in the U.S. were victims of sextortion.
Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a study showing a 1,000% increase in incidents of financial sextortion that were reported in the first six months of 2022 compared to the same timeframe in 2021.
The news comes on the heels of Florida’s 2022 Human Trafficking Summit, which hosted a session on the drastic increase. The summit also provided additional information on the crime and how parents and guardians can help children avoid being victimized.
During the Summit, the Department of Children and Families provided these tips for parents and guardians to protect their children from sextortion, including:
- Be aware of a child’s online activity;
- Require children to make social media accounts private;
- Prevent children from altering or using a fake date of birth to access sites that allow for communication with older individuals;
- Explain that profiles may be altered online to appear as someone else;
- Clarify that once something is sent on the internet, it never goes away; and
- Ensure that children know how to ask for help, even if the situation is uncomfortable
I’m addition to Moody’s alert, she also highlighted a last year’s Online Safety Toolkit, designed to empower parents and guardians to teach their children about the dangers of human trafficking online and to create effective online safety plans for safe internet use.
To view the Online Safety Toolkit, click here.