As any informed parent knows, the Internet holds many dangers for children. The sexual predator who once would have prowled schoolyards is now far more likely to spend his (or, albeit far less often, her) time online, posing as a teen or preteen while trolling for victims.
In one common scheme known as sexual extortion (or sextortion”), the perpetrator asks for the victim to send sexually revealing photographs of him or herself. Thinking they are chatting with the young man or attractive girl whose image accompanies their profile (or, in the case of some especially devious perpetrators, their own real-life boyfriend or girlfriend), the victim agrees. Only then does the perpetrator reveal his true identity and threaten to publish the photos on the Internet unless the victim either provides additional photos or consents to meeting the perpetrator in person for sex. Fearing parental disapproval and damage to their reputations, many comply and suffer in silence. Despite its remote and relatively high tech nature, sextortion is a form of sexual violence, with children as young as 13 or 14 its most frequent victims.