The exploitation of others through sexual manipulation and coercion is nothing new.
While it might seem like something that only happens to people far away from home, this is a situation capable of developing anywhere. In fact, most sextortion events begin off of the Internet, which means anyone, including children, are susceptible to the kinds of people who are looking to exploit others for their own sexual gratification. Due to the growing nature of sextortion, the FBI recently listed it as one of the largest growing threats in the country. It specifically highlighted the state of California as the most prominent area of concern, due to the number of young men and women looking for work in the entertainment business and, instead of receiving employment based on talent, they are forced into sexual acts to avoid being blackballed from their chosen industries. If you believe you've been the victim of sextortion, are considering moving to an area where it is highly prevalent, or simply want to understand more and learn how to identify such a situation for you and your family, continue reading.
Sextortion - What You Need to Know
The broad definition of sextortion is a form of exploitation in a sexual nature. It typically uses a non physical form of coercion in order to obtain some sort of sexual favor. There are and will always be people out there who try to take advantage of others. Sadly, this often bleeds over into not only the sexual realm, but into underaged children as well. Sextortion can occur anywhere and everywhere. With the advent and expanse of social media, predators online are continually looking to "make friends" with younger, underaged children in order to exploit them into providing sexual services. Children are easily manipulated into providing everything from nude photographs in fear of the predator telling their parents of their "wrongdoing" all the way to meeting up for the extortion to occur in person. However, with the continued development of social media, smartphones and technology in general, sextortion occurs everywhere.
According to a 2016 University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, 83 percent of those exploited are women. Nearly half (46 percent) of those who fall victim to sextortion are minors, yet 60 percent of people who were exploited for sexual gains already knew the perpetrator before the incident started. The other 40 percent met online.
In terms of how most cases of extortion are executed, 54 percent of actions take place through one of the vary social media networks (Facebook has primarily been used as the most common destination for sextortion, although Snapchat is growing in popularity for this means). 23 percent of contact between the victims and the perps occurred through video voice calls, while the remaining contact took place via email, dating applications and even direct chat on video game platforms.
Sextortion and State Law in California
Sextortion is now against the law in California. It recently passed not only government voting but public voting for the law as well. While not officially state law in other areas of the country, exploitation is a punishable offense under federal law. Due to this, there have been numerous cases against perpetrators in other states. In California, individuals who commit extortion against a minor may face up to 30 years in prison under 18 U.S. code Section 2251. If a computer is used, a perp may be fined up to $250,000 under 18 U.S. Code Section 1030 and could face an additional 10 years in prison. The FBI has special agents looking specifically into sextortion.
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