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Many parents believe that their children will not fall victim to this serious crime.

It is, however, on the increase, and more and more children succumb to the suggestive world of cybercrime.


Sexual extortion, or "sextortion", occurs when an individual is coerced

into providing money or sexual images through a threat to release sexual or nude photos or videos of them online.

Studies show that 1 in 20 adolescents experience the harrowing trauma of sextortion. Parents should not underestimate the age at which children become vulnerable, as many are as young as 8.

Sextortion does not discriminate and it can affect any child or young person, whether a boy or a girl, from any ethnic or socioeconomic group. The only common denominatorthese children share, is internet access.

Educating children about online safety has never been more crucial. It involves fostering their understanding of digital risks and digital citizenship and how to be safe, legal and ethical online.

  • Many sextortion cases occur within existing relationships with peers, romantic partners or adults.

  • However, in some cases, predators unknown to the child groom them into sharing intimate pictures or videos and later use them for blackmail.

  • Harm associated with sextortion included repeated online contact, harassment and having fake online profiles created of them.

  • About one-quarter of youth who reported being sextorted also reported being threatened with having their pictures publicly posted or sent to others without their consent.

  • When children and adolescents are targets of sextortion, they may experience intense fear and shame in speaking with their parents and caregivers about what has happened.

  • They may be less aware of resources or support they can turn to for help.

  • Young girls are less likely to fall victim to sextortion but they do experience physical and sexual assault more often.

  • They are also threatened to have their images shared without their consent.

  • Boys are, however, more likely to experience sextortion when they often mistakenly believe they are engaged in a mutual exchange of sexual images, which then results in sexual extortion for financial gain.

  • These boys are often also less likely to disclose the victimisation to parents or other trusted adults.

  • Society's expectations of boys as strong and courageous challenge their sense of worth, and the feelings of shame and guilt seem like a stigma to young boys.



  • The perpetrators of this crime are unscrupulous and merciless.

  • They continuously vary and adapt their methods to maximise their chances of success.

  • The perpetrators reach young children by any number of mobile or online sites, apps or even games.

  • They use flattery, compliments and even the pretence of a new romantic relationship to lure their victims.

  • Another entry point is to offer children something they value in exchange for taking a quick picture.

  • Examples include a modelling contract, online game credits or codes, cash, bitcoin, gift cards or any other item that would pique a young child's interest.

  • Then the exporters immediately start with intimidation and threats.

  • They do not hesitate to lie and tell the victim that they already have sensitive images of the child and are willing to distribute them if the child does not adhere to their demands.

  • Once perpetrators have the first image, they use the threat of exposure or harm to keep the child producing more and more explicit material.

  • This cycle of victimisation continues and hurls the victim into an abyss of guilt, shame and fear.

  • It becomes extremely difficult for young victims to break out of this as they are too afraid of what they think they have already done.

  • Children are afraid of the consequences they believe they will face from their parents, teachers or law enforcement.

  • The perpetrators abuse this fear to their advantage and in this manner keep the children adherent.



  • Have conversations with your children about sex, consent to online activities and safety, early and often. 

  • Vary the content based on the child's age and developmental stage. 

  • It is developmentally normal for adolescents to be curious about sexuality and, among older adolescents, to engage in sexual relationships. 

  • It is also a function of an adolescent's developing brain that decisions are not always made with long-term consequences in mind. 

  • As such, it is essential to approach conversations about sex and online behaviours without judgment or blame. 

  • Consider a rule against devices in bedrooms overnight or shutting off Wi-Fi access during overnight hours. 

  • Review the privacy settings of your child's online devices.

  • It is critical to keep all accounts private to ensure predators do not have access to personal information or personal images.

  • Do not overshare personal information online. 

  • Lock down social media accounts so only friends can see posts, photos, and connections.

  • In this manner, a private profile cannot be found on search engines.

  • Never engage with strangers online and do not move any conversation to a different platform, a private chat room or off-line.

  • Should anyone whom you do not know contact, block the request immediately.

  • Children need to understand that predators camouflage their identities and that they are not who you think they are.

  • They use their skills to become the person they think the victim wants to meet.

  • They use hacked social media accounts, and digitally altered or stolen images to pose as someone else.

  • Children should have the reassurance to ask for help.

  • It is the responsibility of the parents to build a relationship of trust with them.

  • Children should be educated to know that sextortion is a criminal offence and that they are the victim and not criminally liable.

  • Show children how to block and report unwelcome messages from strangers.

  • Do spot-checks on your child's phone to ensure that their online interaction is safe. 

  • Arrange this with your child beforehand to ensure trust is not broken.


If you suspect your child's devices have been compromised or that your child might have become a victim of sextortion, contact Mr Bolhuis immediately.

Specialised Security Services invites the public to the Mike Bolhuis Daily Projects WhatsApp Group. This group is important in delivering insights into the latest crime trends, awareness, warnings and the exposure of criminals.


• Follow the link to our WhatsApp group:

• "JOIN" to ensure you never miss our daily updates.

• You will receive automatic notifications as soon as a new project is posted.




Mike Bolhuis

Specialist Investigators into

Serious Violent, Serious Economic Crimes & Serious Cybercrimes

PSIRA Reg. 1590364/421949

Mobile: +27 82 447 6116

Fax: 086 585 4924

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