Sextortion is “threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else”(1)Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. Sextortion Among Adolescents: Results From a National Survey of U.S. Youth. Sexual Abuse, 0(0), 1079063218800469. doi:10.1177/1079063218800469. According to the United States Department of Justice, “sextortion” is labeled as the most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children, with more minor victims per offender than all other child sexual exploitation offenses(2)https://www.mdlinx.com/psychiatry/top-medical-news/article/2018/10/09/7546488. Yet, research into sextortion has been lacking. The recent issue of Sexual Abuse has an article that addresses this gap.

Researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,568 middle and high school students in the US between the ages of 12 to 17 years. They found 5% had been the target of sextortion. While this may sound like a small percentage, considering the average HS in the US has about 750 students in it, that would equate to almost 40 students in each High School being victims of sextortion.

…24.8% of males and 26.1% of females who were sextorted said the offender posted the sexual image of them online, while 25.5% of male victims and 29.6% of female victims said the offender sent the sexual image of them to someone else without their permission.

Few victims of sextortion reported the experience to parents or other adult authorities, although significantly more females informed their parents than did males. In addition, very few sextortion victims reported it to the site or app where the situation occurred.

The article encourages parents and those who work with teens to encourage healthy skepticism and caution in sharing personal and sexual information or images, even with those close to them since most sextortion occurs in friend networks.

Summary from MdLinx…
Sextortion prevalence in teens

Results from the study, just published in the journal Sexual Abuse, reveals that 5% of these youth had been the target of sextortion, and 3% admitted that they had done it to others. While these percentages do not seem high, they constitute a meaningful proportion when extrapolated to a US population of teens. Males were significantly more likely than females to have participated in sextortion both as a victim and as an offender.

“Our finding that males are more likely to be a victim of sextortion was somewhat surprising given that most attention has focused on female victims,” said Sameer Hinduja, PhD, coauthor, a professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within the College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “We also found a connection between offending and victimization, with those involved in one role being more likely to also be involved in the other.”

Other findings showed that adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion.

References   [ + ]

1. Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. Sextortion Among Adolescents: Results From a National Survey of U.S. Youth. Sexual Abuse, 0(0), 1079063218800469. doi:10.1177/1079063218800469
2. https://www.mdlinx.com/psychiatry/top-medical-news/article/2018/10/09/7546488