Parents, students warned to be wary of online predators

‘Sextortion’ a growing problem, as strangers connect on social media sites

Ahead of the new school year beginning, a warning went out to parents, tweens and teens that there are predators lurking online and extorting young people using naked pictures as leverage.

The warning was posted on the new Yorkson Middle School website last week and on other school websites.

In the past few months, Cybertip.ca has seen a rise in reports from youth being victims of sextortion.

These cases have involved predators posing as teenagers and secretly recording the youth exposing themselves online.

Then the offender threatens to share the sexual content if the teenagers don’t pay money (often hundreds of dollars) to the individual, claims the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

In many incidents, youth are participating in this activity believing they are engaging with another young person.

Connections first start out within social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, and then progress to live video feeds like Skype where youth engage in sexual behaviours that are secretly recorded by offenders over webcam.

In response to this emerging issue of concern, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection has issued a Cybertip.ca alert.

“Parents must have regular conversations with teens about the risks associated with engaging in sexual behaviour online and how videos and images can be used against them,” says Signy Arnason, director of Cybertip.ca.

“Live video streaming in combination with the sexual curiosity of youth makes them particularly vulnerable to being sextorted and coerced.”

For more tips about what to know go to cybertip.ca.