Sexual predators are connecting with adolescents via gaming and online chats. The predator establishes trust with the victim by posing as a child, eventually tricking the minor into sharing sexually explicit images. The abuser then uses the child’s images to coerce them into sending more graphic photos and videos. This crime is being called sextortion.
According to a 2016 Justice Department report, sextortion is “the most significantly growing threat to children”. It is extremely manipulative behavior that can cause significant harm to the victims, evident by an FBI study that concluded that a quarter of sampled cases incited suicide or attempted suicide.
Predators are using video games as a hunting ground because of the high concentration of unsupervised children. The Pew Research Center stated that 97% of teenage boys and 84% of girls play games online.
In May 2019, a man in California was sentenced to 14 years in prison for forcing an 11-year-old girl into making child pornography. Another abuser from Seattle was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2015 for requesting sexually explicit images from three boys. Additionally, in 2017, a man from Illinois received a punishment of 15 years after a threat to rape two boys and a warning to kill one of them.
New Jersey Assistant Attorney General Christine Hoffman led a sting in which law enforcement officials posed as children on the internet to catch online predators. In less than one week, 24 offenders were arrested. While disclosing the arrests, officers revealed that the predators made contact with the children on Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox. Criminals also reached children on platforms such as Clash of Clans, League of Legends, and Xbox Live. Despite these dangers, 2018 Kansas Principal of the Year Dr. Kristy Cluster warned parents not to restrict video games from children because it could drive them into even more dangerous places online.
If your child is a victim of sextortion, contact an attorney today to pursue justice against their abuser. A knowledgeable lawyer is aware of how delicate the subject of sexual abuse is and how it may affect a victim. They can help you adequately support your child while seeking justice and compensation for the heinous crime.