The Sextortion Epidemic

Quite some time ago, I wrote a story of a predator who manipulated hundreds of underage girls to take inappropriate photos of themselves. He threatened to blast the photos online to the world if they didn’t send him more inappropriate photos. I wish I could tell you this was an isolated incident.

But I can’t. According to the Justice Department, sextortion is the biggest growing threat to children and underage teens today. Sextortion is enticing someone to commit inappropriate sexual acts online, then threatening to expose the act if the victim doesn’t give in to the culprit’s financial or perverted demands. But victims can be of any age. At George Mason University, two college students are lured into trusting people online. They got the students to broadcast sexual acts on a webcam. The suspects threatened to put the videos on the Internet if the victims didn’t pay $5,000. As early as 2010, a 13-year-old named Amanda Todd was talked into exposing herself, and the online predators demanded more. When she didn’t cooperate, they posted the girl’s pictures to social media. She made a powerful You Tube video addressing her ordeal two years later. Then, she committed suicide. Sadly it’s gotten worse. Between 2010-2013, sextortion complaints have increased 32%. Even President Obama addressed this epidemic in April 2015, calling April to be “National Child Abuse Prevention Month”.

Think about what victims are driven to. Often, victims feel shame, guilt, and isolation. In 2015 alone, two sextortion victims committed suicide and 12 attempted suicide. The victims are often bullied, can’t get friends, a job, housing, hindered from obtaining meaningful relationships. If you’re a perpetrator of such crimes, do you want that on your conscious for the rest of your life? And if you’re a perpetrator of these crimes, you will eventually be found out. Law enforcement on every level is cracking down on this atrocity. Communities are coming together to combat this epidemic. And when you do get caught, it won’t be a speeding ticket. You’ll probably be in prison for decades, if not life. Just ask Lucus Michael Chansler. Is it worth it? I’m sure Chansler doesn’t think so. Everyone failed 13-year-old Amanda Todd: her perpetrators, her peers, her school, her teachers, her parents, the justice system, her community, her town, county, state and nation. Todd ought to be alive and thriving right now. Will we let this precious child’s death be in vain?

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