Stop sextortion – caregivers

Your children are safer because of your support and guidance through all of life’s challenges, including while they are online. There are a few things you can do to help your child avoid getting into tricky, and sometimes dangerous, situations like sextortion.

This is hard, but you’re already doing the right thing by reading this guide. Your next steps: Talk about it with your children, then talk about it with your friends.

Talk to your kids about online safety.

Talking about sexting is an easy entry point, and it is language kids understand. Sexting is sharing or receiving sexually explicit messages or nude or partially nude images, usually online. Here is some language to help you get started:

  • Has anyone ever sent you an intimate picture or sext? (You can probably just say sext if you’re comfortable.)
  • Has anyone ever asked or pressured you to send an intimate picture or sext? (Explain that somebody trying to pressure them into sending intimate images isn’t somebody they should trust.)
  • Do you think it is okay to forward intimate or embarrassing images? Why? (Emphasize the importance of not forwarding these images. It could be really hurtful for the person in the image, and your child could get in trouble for forwarding. Plus, nobody has the right to decide who should see someone else’s body.)

Be there for them unconditionally.

Kids experiencing sextortion can be scared of getting in trouble. They may be worried about embarrassing their parents, or that they’ll get suspended from school, judged by friends or in trouble with the police. These fears can even be suggested by the abuser to maintain control over them, and sadly, this does happen. These fears keep kids silent, and that has led to terrible tragedies.

Your fear and frustration is normal, but your kids need to know you’ll always get through tough situations together. Even if you think they know you’ll support them, having these conversations can make a big difference in them sharing their experiences with you when something feels off or goes wrong.

Keep learning.

Being a parent can be a difficult job. Keeping up with the fast-paced changes in today’s technology is hard. Download new apps and try them out. Ask your kid what their favorite apps are. The more you talk about this with your child, the easier it will be to understand if something bad is happening, and the easier it will be for them to share uncomfortable situations with you.

We encourage you to explore our resources for parents and families. Whether you have a Facebook or Instagram account—or your child has one —we've come up with some handy links, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your experience and help your child navigate their experience.

Spread the word.

By educating each other, we can better protect our children. Share Thorn's "Stop Sextortion" video with your kids and your friends. The more people know about some of the ways sextortion happens, the better equipped they’ll be to handle these situations.