Monday, November 10, 2008

Online Sexual Predators Using Blackmail To Get Victims To Cooperate

From the Courier Mail AU:

Police believe direct campaigns in schools and the media had worked to educate children and youths on how to detect and report pedophiles and predators in chat rooms and other cyber sites.

But an internal police report said the success had been countered by child-sex offenders resorting to more aggressive and intimidating tactics.

A police source said Queensland teenagers had been tricked into giving out secrets or sending compromising pictures to a supposed online friend, who then blackmailed them for more revealing pictures.

"There has been an increase in online offenders using threats such as hacking online profiles and email accounts and using blackmail techniques as a response to an increasingly empowered internet generation who are recognising and reporting online grooming behaviour to police agencies," the report said. [...]

The predators then threatened to reveal some information unless the victim either sent them photos of themselves or agreed to meet them in person.

This report contradicts the belief that most of those looking for sexual contact with children are only looking for truly consensual interactions. Too often when people hear that someone has been charged with statutory rape or soliciting a child there is a baseless assumption that the contact was genuinely consensual and non-predatory when coercion is likely and force is possible.

This is another reminder that cooperation is not consent.

I believe this blackmailing online is a reflection of predatory behavior offline. The key difference online is that threats made through the Internet can usually be saved so there can be more than the victim's testimony available to investigators and prosecutors.

In some cases threats which begin offline can continue online. When this happens it is critical to save the online threats.

When parents are talking to their children about safety issues, it is important for the parents to know how to save online threats however they arrive so they can show their child how to do so. It is important for both children and parents to understand that online blackmail can be more than bullying, it can be a crime.

It is also important for parents to communicate that a child's actions which the parent doesn't approve of are less important than that child's safety. Sexual predators go after boys as well as girls so all children need to be part of this protection effort.

I disagree with those who recommend deleting online bullying since this is potential evidence. What I do agree with is the advice to not engage bullies. Don't have a dialogue with predators, report them.

If the criminal statutes in specific jurisdiction haven't kept up with technology then that is important information to have so that parents can know that they need to communicate with their legislators that updating the law must be a priority.

Predators depend upon our fear of talking about these issues with each other and children because that fear leaves many children ignorant about the reality they aren't powerless against threats.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:22 AM   1 comments links to this post


At January 22, 2009 7:56 AM, Anonymous Fighter said...

Intimidation! Yes. Harassment, mind control, smear, attacks, hacking... whatever it takes.


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