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Daily Q&A: How should victims respond to "sextortion" on the Internet?

How should parents or victims respond to those who use explicit or compromising Internet photos of youth as extortion tools?

First of all, Linda Criddle, president of the Safe Internet Alliance and one of the nation's foremost experts on Internet and wireless safety, says parents need to be "specific and concrete when impressing on their kids the dangers of transmitting explicit or compromising photos electronically."

Some use those photos to extort other photos or elicit activity from children, a crime sometimes referred to as "sextortion."

Here is what Criddle suggests to parents to minimize the danger and help a child cope when the sextortion does occur:

Understand how extortionists operate. If they have one compromising image, video, or piece of information and they see opportunity in threatening a victim with it, giving them what they ask for is just providing more ammunition. It will not stop the exploitation — in most cases it will simply allow the extortionist to increase their demands.

Realize that what the extortionist is doing is illegal. Call it extortion, sextortion, or blackmail, it's illegal.

Find help. For minors, no matter how embarrassing the incident, parents will in most cases be the best place to first turn to for help. Depending on the situation, it may be resolved through parents, or with school involvement. Where sexual demands are made, it is a matter for immediate law enforcement involvement.

For this and other information about keeping kids safe on the Internet, visit: http://www.safeinternet.org/blog/sexting-webcams-and-indiscretion-comes-dangers

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: How should victims respond to "sextortion" on the Internet? 08/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:12pm]
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