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Sunday, January 29, 2023
HomeFamilyParent Support ResourcesKeeping Kids Safe Online During Winter Break

Keeping Kids Safe Online During Winter Break

Unfortunately, the headlines this time of year aren’t all filled with holiday cheer and good wishes. The news doesn’t get a holiday break like many of us do and so that means we need to continue to pay attention to information they are sharing with the world. In this particular instance, while kids are out of school on winter break, keeping an eye on their online presence is more important than ever. The FBI has released information about an increase in the number of cases that involve children and teens being threatened and coerced into sending sexual or explicit images online; this is a crime called sextortion. Sextortion is an online crime when an adult interacts with a person under the age of 18 and convinces them to share sexual pictures or perform sexual acts via the internet. Often times, the children believe they are communicating with someone their own age and they are unaware it is a predator. Once the explicit material from the child is received, they are then threatened with blackmail that the pictures or video will be released unless money or gift cards are sent.

The best defense against these terrible crimes is information-sharing and open lines of communication between you and your children. Continue to have open conversations about what is and is not appropriate online behavior and explain that anyone or anything could be online, including predators committing crimes with bad intent. Help them understand that the internet doesn’t have a delete button; any photo or video online will always have the risk and the potential to become public.

Another crucial element is letting your child know that they can trust you and come to you for help. You are their first person that can be trusted with this information to comfort them, help them understand they are the victim in this situation, and that together, you will report this crime to the authorities and law enforcement.

To report a case of exploitation of sextortion, contact your local FBI field office, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or report it online at tips.fbi.gov. The FBI also has staff dedicated to assisting victims of crime. Learn more about our Victim Services Division and know your rights if you are the victim of sextortion and your images have been posted online.

For more information, check out https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/safety-resources/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/sextortion.

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