Image Sharing can leave children and young people susceptible to online bullying, blackmail, grooming, unwanted attention and emotional stress. The feeling of embarrassment and shame can be overwhelming for a young person. Therefore, a child-centred, sensitive approach is key in such circumstances. The child needs to be reassured and, regardless of how robust they appear, a multi-agency suicide prevention plan should be developed immediately.
Don’t overreact or get angry. It is integral that you stay calm, the child needs your support. Engage the police and multi-agency support and make sure you check that a suicide prevention plan is in place.
The pressure on a child in these circumstances can lead to serious mental health issues caused by the fear of what might happen, leading to depression and a desperation that drives young people to self-harm or even contemplate suicide. So don’t overreact; be sensitive and supportive. Some children will obviously need immediate help, they may self-harm, attempt or threaten suicide. However, even in the case where the child appears to be managing well, always seek help from professionals like their doctor.
Raise awareness but do it in a way that accepts people. Young people especially, make mistakes in their lives – we all did.
Use Case Studies already in the public arena to highlight how Sextortion happens, how the approaches are made, and the way they develop to blackmail and threats.
Once a predator tricks a child into sharing an image, a common tactic is to manipulate them to share more images of a progressively intimate nature by threatening that if they don’t, then the predator will share what they already have. This creates a destructive cycle that can only be broken by the offender being caught, or the child coming forward.
Help – identify pathways to get help. Reinforce the fact that the sooner a victim tells someone the sooner they can be supported and the greater the chance of catching the criminals and stopping the crime.