Shielding Your Kids From Sextortion: Talk About What It Is & How To Handle It.

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I was recently invited on to BBC Radio Scotland to talk about #sextortion

Talking to your kids about sextortion is a delicate but essential conversation to ensure their safety online.

Here are some guidelines to help you approach this discussion:

1. Educate Yourself First

Understand what sextortion is: It’s a form of blackmail where someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them with images, sexual favours, or money.

Familiarise yourself with the digital platforms your kids use and the risks associated with them.

2. Create a Safe Environment

Choose a quiet, private place to talk where your child feels safe and comfortable.
Approach the topic with empathy and without judgment. Let your child know they can talk to you about anything.

3. Use Age-Appropriate Language

For younger children, use simple language and focus on the basics of online safety and privacy.
For older children and teenagers, provide more detailed information about the risks and consequences of sharing personal information and images online.

4. Explain Sextortion Clearly

Define sextortion in a way they can understand.
Use real-life examples or hypothetical scenarios to illustrate how it can happen and what the potential dangers are.

5. Discuss Online Behaviour and Privacy

Emphasise the importance of not sharing personal information, images, or videos with people they don’t know in real life.

Encourage them to think critically about what they post and share online.

6. Teach Them How to Respond

Make sure they know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they ever feel threatened or uncomfortable online.

Discuss the steps to take if they are approached by someone who makes them feel uneasy, including blocking the person, not responding to the threats, and reporting the incident to you and the platform.

7. Promote Open Communication

Reinforce that they won’t get in trouble for coming to you with concerns about sextortion or any other online issues.
Encourage regular check-ins about their online interactions and experiences.

8. Provide Resources

Share resources like websites, hotlines, and organisations that can offer help and information, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Familiarise yourself with UK-specific resources like CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection)

9. Model Good Online Behaviour

Be a role model in your own online interactions. Show them how to use privacy settings and make thoughtful decisions about what to share online.

10. Stay Updated

Keep up with the latest trends and threats in the digital world to continue providing relevant advice and guidance.

Sample Conversation Starter

“Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something important. You know how we always talk about staying safe online? There’s something called sextortion, where someone might try to get you to send pictures or videos and then threaten to share them if you don’t do what they say. It can be really scary, but I want you to know you can always come to me if anything like that ever happens. We’ll figure it out together.”

By following these steps, you can help your kids understand the risks of sextortion and empower them to protect themselves online.

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